Jeff McInnis: Hot Chef
Jeff McInnis's name would stand out on any definitive list of top Miami chefs: It's the one that keeps moving up. This nice young man born in Niceville, Florida, first achieved a high profile thanks to a stint on Top Chef. At the time, he was in the midst of a five-year run as executive chef of the DiLido Beach Club at the Ritz-Carlton South Beach. While there, he created highly acclaimed cuisine that proved he was more than just a pretty face.
But it is his gig as chef de cuisine at Gigi, the immensely popular noodles-barbecue-beer joint in Wynwood, that has him shooting up the charts like a bullet. "I had a gut feeling," McInnis says when asked if he expected Gigi to become the hot new spot as soon as it opened. "We knew we had a great concept, and the pieces just fell into place. Gigi is different — breaking the rules and [heading] into a new direction that Miami has been craving for a long time." That craving is apparently for a restaurant that is "well priced, focused on flavor, unpretentious, [open] late-night, and [serving] food that fucking rocks."
With this new, noncorporate setting comes freedom for McInnis to cook the way he wants. "I was never able to remove a cheeseburger or the 'boring hotel must-haves' from my menus. Now I can use chicken feet, pig ears, crab vagina, or whatever I feel like cooking, and not toss caesar salad for thousands all day."
But the biggest difference, he says, is that while working "about 90 hours a week now, every drop of sweat I lose when I'm working at Gigi is to better myself and my own restaurant instead of someone else's."
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And really, when you look at the surging success of both Gigi and McInnis, you realize that few, if any, local chefs could have done a better job of bettering things.
Cynthia Aguilar | Maria Teresa Goobs>>
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