Jeff McInnis Mentors Students, Cooks Family-Style at Johnson & Wales University

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar's executive chef, Jeff McInnis, served a family-style Southern meal at Johnson & Wales University as part of the school's distinguished visiting chef series of dinners.

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McInnis was the latest in a line of talented graduates of the school's culinary program to return to the school to mentor current students and host a dinner. The dinners allow students currently enrolled in the culinary programs to experience first-hand what it's like to work on the line with one of the city's best toques.

McInnis, a 1998 graduate of Johnson & Wales' Charleston Campus, spent two days with the students, teaching them cooking techniques and sharing his experiences on Top Chef. The four-course dinner is prepared, for the most part, by the students, who volunteer their time in exchange for the opportunity to work with a top chef.

The dinners, hosted throughout the school year, help to raise scholarship fund for deserving students. Philip Velez was presented with a $2,000 award at the dinner.

Jeff McInnis shows JWU students how to plate a salad to his specification.

This take on a classic wedge featured crisp iceberg lettuce, fresh tomatoes, a pimento and lardo crouton, and a slice of crisp ham, cured from a 320-pound wild boar.

A pan-seared sea scallop was topped with smoked creme fraiche. Calabaza soup was poured tableside around the scallop.

Family-style dining comes to JWU. Each table was greeted with a host of traditional southern treats including Yardbird fried chicken, stone ground grits, sauteed Brussels sprouts, and a cheddar waffle topped with green tomato chow chow.

A carrot cake topped with savory cream cheese ice cream rounded out the meal.

Philip Velez was presented with a $2,000 scholarship that will help him continue his pursuit of a career in the culinary arts.

McInnis in the kitchen with his student chefs.

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