Top Chef Jeff McInnis Sues Miami Herald for Defamation

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In an attempt to clear his name, Jeff McInnis, chef/partner at Root & Bone in New York City and former executive chef at Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, has filed a lawsuit against the Miami Herald, claiming the South Florida publication was "false and defamatory" in its treatment of a story published one year ago under its "Rumor Mill" column. The chef tells Short Order that the lawsuit is "the route that I was forced to take to clear my name."

According to Courthouse News, McInnis filed a federal complaint in Manhattan last Thursday against McClatchy Management Services, McClatchy Newspapers, and the Miami Herald, claiming an article published October 16, 2013, contained "some pretty horrendous allegations" against him.

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

The story, under the title, "The Rumor Mill," contained unsubstantiated allegations related to McInnis and his family by his ex-wife Melissa.

McInnis spoke with Short Order last year to respond to the Miami Herald story, saying, "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."

McInnis responded to Short Order's inquiry regarding the lawsuit with the following statement:

"These allegations are untrue, which I have stated from the moment they appeared online. Unfortunately things that are posted on the internet exist forever unless you take legal action, and so this is the route that I was forced to take to clear my name. As I've stated in the past, 'there is no truth to the statements the rumor mill posted.' It's unfortunate a journalist can write an entire article today without any fact checking. This kind of rumor writing style is damaging to hard-working people.

"I've been here in NYC, focusing on my new restaurant Root & Bone, and while we've received amazing feedback and praise, these false allegations keep resurfacing, which is not fair to my partner and I or our amazing team, who works hard day in and day out at the restaurant. I could not let another day go by just letting it be."

In the lawsuit, the talented chef calls the story "false and defamatory." He is seeking $150,000 in damages and is represented by Edmond Wong in Forest Hills, New York.

In the past year, McInnis moved to New York City and opened Root & Bone with partner Janine Booth. Eater New York says the Manhattan eatery is filled with "kick-ass classics" and serves the city's "best new fried chicken."

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