Chef Jeff McInnis & Chef Janine Booth

By The Tig

The Tig Archives 01 / 23 / 2015

He may call himself a simple Southern boy from the Florida Panhandle (or the “Redneck Riviera” as he lovingly refers to it), but Chef Jeff McInnis has been killing it on the New York culinary scene ever since he and his partner/girlfriend, and fellow Top Chef contestant, Chef Janine Booth, opened Root & Bone in the East Village six months ago. The two met after Janine continued to dine at Jeff’s Cajun restaurant, Gigi’s, over and over again, ordering the same beloved dish…ahem, the meatloaf. (And who wouldn’t, when the meat base is short rib, which marinates for a day and is then pan-roasted and paired with a beautiful swoosh of cauliflower puree.) While he didn’t swoop in on her at first (#sillyboy), once he realized how talented (and not to mention, gorgeous) she was, the Australian-born chef ended up working at Gigi’s in Miami for four years. Now the two have moved to New York with Root & Bone, where the decor is rustic, eclectic, and homey, and the food is comfort at its coziest. Don’t let that fool you though – while it’s food that feels like a big hug on a bad day, it’s chef-ed up. Like their thyme-topped “Grandma Daisy’s Angel Biscuits” with toasted benne seed sea salt and a beautiful chicken jus (rather than thick ol’ gravy) on the side. Or their lemon dusted, sweet tea brined fried chicken, which Eater NY labeled “Manhattan’s Best New Fried Chicken”—a title that’s certainly nothing to scoff at. And don’t worry, there’s still that meatloaf on the menu.

Jeff

  1. What’s the staff meal your kitchen gets most excited about?

    I have a fair amount of Latin guys in my kitchen who are all amazing and dedicated, so I usually let them go wild for family meal. We bring in a few tortillas and stuff for them to mess with and they really think outside the box.

  2. What is the one knife you can’t live without?

    I have a nine inch Japanese carbon knife that I love. There was a guy in San Francisco that made it and it doesn’t have a real brand name to it. He etched some Japanese inside of it. He asked me my name like four times and how to spell it and then I asked him if he had written my name, but he couldn’t really understand what I was saying. So it probably says my name in Japanese.

  3. What’s your naughty food indulgence?

    I’ve been on a juice cleanse the past four days and I just ate a ravioli. I love cheeseburgers too—I crave a cheeseburger at least once a week.

  4. What’s your mini bar go to?

    Usually if I’m in a hotel, I’m on vacation, so probably a drink. I like Snickers bars—I know that’s garbage, but I’d probably grab that.

  5. If you could stage at any restaurant in your city, where would it be and why?

    There are so many great ones—Per Se and Eleven Madison Park are probably the most top notch, but I don’t know how much they’d really let me do there.

  6. After a long day at work you go home and…?

    Unfortunately, I usually eat late at night. I try to make it healthy, but, well, you know…

  7. If you weren’t working in a kitchen, what would you be doing?

    Hopefully I’d be fishing or riding a boat. That’s what I wanted to do before I got into cooking.

  8. Drink of choice?

    I drink bourbon and whiskey mostly.

  9. One cookbook you can’t live without/most referenced?

    I lost it, but I love the book Culinary Artistry by Karen Page and Andrew Dorenburg. It has some recipes, but it’s more about the ergonomics of cooking and it really helped me realize what people’s palate’s wanted and what works with other things.

  10. What’s the most overrated ingredient?

    I respect all ingredients, but I don’t like kiwis. They’re weird little fruits.

  11. Describe your cooking in one word:

    Slow.

Janine

  1. What’s the staff meal your kitchen gets most excited about?

    Our Junior Sous Chef Rafa is from Mexico City and loves to prepare traditional rustic Mexican dishes for family meal, which everyone gets really excited about.

  2. What is the one knife you can’t live without?

    My Kikuichi Elite Chef’s knife. It is my baby. My partner, Jeff, purchased this one for me and engraved my name into it. Kikuichi knives are my favorite, they are beautifully crafted and this one is particularly special to me.

  3. What’s your naughty food indulgence?

    I really do love our fried chicken. I have to taste it every day to make sure the brine, flour and lemon seasoning is up to scratch. When I am not at work, I love fresh pasta, pizza, and I am a sucker for good ice cream! My favorite right now is the salted caramel from Morgensterns.

  4. What’s your mini bar go to?

    Usually just water because if I’m on holiday, I am usually out and about trying as much food and drink as possible, so it’s important to keep hydrated. It’s also essential to cure a hangover!

  5. If you could stage at any restaurant in your city, where would it be and why?

    Masa in Columbus Circle. I would love to be able to make sushi like these guys. It truly is a magical and mind blowing experience.

  6. After a long day at work you go home and…?

    Usually we get home very late from work and it takes us a little time to wind down and decompress from the day. Sometimes I will cook a nice light dinner for Jeff and me, and we will share a bottle of wine. Other times we eat sliced apple and peanut butter and watch a movie and cuddle with my dog Baci.

  7. If you weren’t working in a kitchen, what would you be doing?

    I would be traveling and staging my way through South East Asia and Coastal Europe, learning as much as humanly possible about the food and culture.

  8. Drink of choice?

    Depending on my mood…our Gold Rush cocktail which is bourbon, lemon & honey, some Schramsberg Champagne or just a Hendricks Gin & tonic with all the bells and whistles.

  9. One cookbook you can’t live without/most referenced?

    Roots: The Definitive Compendium by Diane Morgan. You will learn everything you need to know about every root vegetable.

  10. What’s the most overrated ingredient?

    Truffle oil. There are some good ones out there but some of them are made with synthetic flavors and they can really break a dish.

  11. Describe your cooking in one word:

    Comforting (yet surprisingly unique).

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Last updated on June 29th, 2019