Chef with local ties aims to be ‘top' on TV

Published 7:47 pm Wednesday, December 10, 2008

By By Lydia Grimes – features reporter
Carolyn Larrimore gets to see her grandson's cooking every Wednesday night at 9 - and so does the rest of the country.
Jeff McInnis is one of the contestants featured on Season 5 of “Top Chef,” a reality competition show that airs on the Bravo network each Wednesday at 9 p.m. He is one of 16 chefs still competing on the show.
McInnis grew up in Niceville, Fla., and got his first job at the age of 14 at the local marina where he worked on boats and cleaned the catch of the day. When he was 16 he got his first cooking job at the Marina Cafe, peeling shrimp and cleaning and preparing fish.
McInnis graduated from Johnson and Wales College in Charleston, S.C., where he obtained a degree in culinary arts. He also worked at a local beachside restaurant, Atlanticville Restaurant and Cafe while attending college. He then moved on to be the sous chef at a restaurant in St. John in the Virgin Islands.
When his girlfriend - now his wife - Courtney earned her law degree from the University of Virginia, she was offered a position on the West coast. McInnis resigned from his job and followed her to San Francisco, where he was able to add different culinary skills to his resume. He and his wife moved back to Virginia and he worked at Keswick Hall, a five-star hotel owned by the Orient Express.
Returning to his native Florida, Jeff worked directly under Chef Norman Van Aken and then joined The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach culinary team. He currently serves as Chef de Cuisine of The DiLido Beach Club.