James is a New Jersey native. As a teenager he worked for a local pizzeria, and in college , James gained front- and back-of-house experience at various bars and restaurants, only furthering his enthusiasm for the culinary and hospitality industry. In September 2005, he earned a Culinary Arts degree at The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale before heading back to New Jersey.
James continued to hone his skills working as a tournant for David Burke at Fromagerie in Rumson, NJ.
Eventually, he was hired at Michael Mina’s Sea Blue where he ultimately became a Sous Chef. In 2010 a TV opportunity then came his way, and he took a break from the restaurant to work on the culinary production team for Gordon Ramsay’s hit FOX television show “Kitchen Nightmares.” CJA stayed on as a Consulting Chef for one of the show’s renovated New Jersey restaurants before making his way back to Sea Blue.
In 2011, James joined BR Guest Hospitality helping to open Dos Caminos and its three sister restaurants at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City. The following year, he returned to FOX television as the Blue Team Sous Chef on Gordon Ramsay’s culinary competition show “Hell’s Kitchen” for Season 11. 12, 13 , and 14.
In the summer of 2014 he became the Executive Chef of the Asbury Festhalle and Biergarten and Executive Chef/Partner at the Bonney Read.
Then in Spring of 2018 James opened his farm to table eatery Farmly Neighborhood Kitchen in his hometown. James has also been featured on the Food Network alongside Chef Michael Symon. James currently lives in Wall, N.J. with his wife, Diana, and four young children. When he is not in restaurants James enjoys reading, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, yoga and meditating
"I once read that GOOD chefs make GREAT food, but GREAT chefs make other GREAT chefs. That sentence has always stuck with me, and inspires me daily on this path of empowering others. I want to serve by helping people reach their highest potential in the hospitality industry. Mentorship, leadership, and inspiring others are the things that I love the most. It is not only my mission now, but it is my pleasure to be of service."
Pre-opening at Farmly with Mike Luzio
Talking about knives and what got me into the business.
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