Celebrity Chef Says the Herald Defamed Him

     (CN) – A “Top Chef” contestant says in court that the Miami Herald defamed him by quoting his ex-wife as saying that he abandoned her and their 2-year-old daughter.
     Jeffrey McInnis, a chef at Root & Bone in New York City, filed the federal complaint in Manhattan on Thursday against McClatchy Management Services, McClatchy Newspapers and the Miami Herald.
     The lawsuit came a year to the day of an Oct. 16, 2013, article from the Miami Herald that, by its own words, contained “some pretty horrendous allegations” against McInnis.
     McInnis’ ex-wife is quoted in the article as saying the chef abandoned her and their child so he could go to New York and open a restaurant with his alleged mistress, fellow “Top Chef” contestant Janine Booth.
     The article says McInnis bullied his ex into divorce, telling her that she and the child were “standing in the way of his dreams.” She also allegedly accused McInnis of emptying the couple’s bank account on the way out.
     Now McInnis calls the publications “false and defamatory.”
     In addition to emotional harm, McInnis says the libelous remarks have hurt his finances, “his business, his potential business opportunities, his reputation and standing in the community.”
     The Miami Herald quotes McInnis’ ex-wife as saying: “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.”
     McInnis responded to the allegations at the time with a statement that he has not abandoned his child, that he continues to financially support her, and that flies her to New York to visit with him.
     “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,” he said last year.
     McInnis seeks $150,000 for defamation.
     He is represented by Edmond Wong in Forest Hills, N.Y.

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