Food News

Exclusive: Jeff McInnis Responds to Ex-Wife's Allegations of Cheating, Abandonment

Earlier this week, reported that Melissa McInnis, ex-wife of Top Chef alum and former Yardbird top toque Jeff McInnis, had some pretty strong allegations about her ex-husband.

The former Mrs. McInnis, who has a young daughter with the chef, told's Lesley Abravanel that, "Jeff abandoned me and his small infant child." Melissa McInnis also said that 50 Eggs' John Kunkel gave her ex a million dollars when they parted ways. "He lied about the money he got from John and emptied our bank account," she said, adding  "I will fight until we get what's rightfully ours. We helped him build his name, his brand, everything, and for him to be this despicable and abandon us, it's absurd. I do not know how he can look himself in the mirror every day."

In addition, Melissa McInnis told Eater Miami that her ex-husband is a "backstabbing buttface."

Back in July, McInnis departed Yardbird, telling Short Order he wanted to "get back to why I fell in love with this industry in the first place."

See also: Jeff McInnis Departs Yardbird Southern Table & Bar

Public records show the couple filed for divorce June 28, 2013 and the divorce was recently finalized. (Melissa McInnis contacted Short Order regarding the allegations and we decided not to cover the story, which is irrelevant to Jeff McInnis's work as a chef.) 

See also: Jeff McInnis to Open Root & Bone in New York's Alphabet City

On Friday, McInnis, who is now dating a Top Chef contestant Janine Booth, called Short Order with the following statement regarding the allegations:

I've never been one to put my personal life in the press, but it seems that my ex-wife has chosen to open up to the press releasing false information about myself, my daughter and my current relationship with Janine and so I am being forced to respond in order to set the record straight. My ex-wife and I were only married for one year, during which I received the most amazing gift, my daughter Bryce. Bryce is the love of my life and I have not, nor would I ever, abandon her. When I parted ways with 50 Eggs, there was a non-compete in place and so had I stayed in South Florida, I would not have been able to work and provide for Bryce. I see my daughter often and will always make a point to do so even though we are apart - in fact, she was just here in New York with me for a week only a couple of days ago. Although I was forced to relocate, I have secured a nice and comfortable place for the two of them to live rent-free, and pay them a monthly stipend to cover their living expenses. Additionally, Melissa received a financial settlement when the divorce was finalized.

Janine and I have worked together for the past several years and she has always been a friend. Over the past few months that friendship has turned into something stronger and we are together. As such, we decided to relocate to NYC together and focus on doing what we both love, cooking. This is not a "scandal" as it has been called by some of the media, it is an ex-wife that is throwing stones and that is unfortunate. These accusations are untrue and slanderous, and have hurt innocent people.

-Jeffrey McInnis

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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss

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