was born and raised in Virginia, where he first developed his love
for barbecue, spicy food and live fire cooking. He entered the foodservice
industry at age 18, when he left college and became a dishwasher.
Fascinated by the intense energy and teamwork that are the heart of
any restaurant kitchen, Chris went on to become a line cook, and then
decided to pursue a formal culinary education at the Culinary Institute
of America (CIA) where he graduated in 1977.
Following his graduation from the CIA in 1977,
Chris worked in 35 different restaurants, working with New England's
most innovative chefs during the first blossoming of nouvelle cuisine.
He also continued his extensive travels to regions featuring overhead
waves and low 80s temperatures, further honing his fondness for loud
flavors, seafood, and grilling.
In 1986 Chris opened the East Coast Grill,
in 1989, Jake and Earl's Dixie BBQ and in 1990, The Blue Room. All
of these restaurants received national attention. In 1996 Chris consolidated
his restaurant efforts and revamped the East Coast Grill, tripling
its size and shifting its focus to seafood. In 1999 Chris opened the
Back Eddy in Westport, MA, overlooking the Westport River. Close relationships
with local farmers, fishermen, brewers, vintners and cheese makers
define the menu at the Back Eddy.
Chris is the co-author with John Willoughby
of five cookbooks: the James Beard Cookbook Award winner, The
Thrill of the Grill (Morrow, 1990); Salsas,
Sambals, Chutneys, and Chowchows (Morrow, 1993); Big
Flavors of the Hot Sun (Morrow, 1994); Lettuce
in Your Kitchen (Morrow, 1996); and License
to Grill (Morrow, 1997). They also have a monthly feature in The
New York Times, and have written numerous articles for magazines
such as GQ and Food & Wine. Chris is also a Contributing
Editor for Saveur magazine.
An accomplished cooking teacher, Chris has
taught culinary students at his alma mater, the Culinary Institute
of America, in both the New York and Napa Valley campuses. Chris was
the winner of the 1996 James Beard Awards "Best Chef of the Northeast".
He has appeared on dozens of television shows around the USA to talk
about food and cooking, has been a guest speaker at numerous conferences,
and has been featured in over 200 magazine and newspaper articles.
Chris is also a founding member of the national organization Chefs
2000 and actively works with local farmers to preserve farming in