A New Jersey native, Chef James Avery has fond memories of discovering delicious home cooking with his family in Georgia and New Orleans. As a teenager, he worked in a local pizzeria as a bus boy and delivery person, yet he was always attracted to the kitchen. Drawn by the constant hustle and bustle in the kitchen, Avery discovered his passion: a creative outlet in a fast-paced and demanding environment.
Avery put himself through college in Florida working at several bars and restaurants, gaining both front-of-house and back-of-house experience. In September 2005, he earned a Culinary Arts degree at The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale and later moved to New Jersey to begin his career.
Avery started his own catering company, Backyard Barbecue Group, specializing in outdoor events and private parties. He then worked under David Burke at Formagerie and honed his skills in classic techniques including roasting chicken and making fresh pasta. Together with his family, Avery opened J Café, offering from-scratch cooking with local and seasonal ingredients in the small seaside community of Lake Como, New Jersey. His family eventually transformed J Café into Jersey Burger, a classic American burger joint,which he still consults on to this day.
Avery continued to develop his career and skills at Michael Mina’s Sea Blue in Atlantic City, New Jersey, where he eventually ascended a Sous Chef. In 2010, Avery joined Gordon Ramsay's hit series KITCHEN NIGHTMARES as a consultant. Avery returned to Michael Mina’s Sea Blue for some time before joining BR Guest Hospitality and opening Dos Caminos at Harrah's Resort in May 2011.
An advocate for the Slow Food movement, Avery also initiated Le Petit Chef program at Marlboro Montessori, teaching New Jersey schoolchildren more about food, nutrition and simple meal preparation.
In 2012, Avery joined HELL’S KITCHEN as Sous Chef for Seasons Eleven and Twelve. Avery currently serves as Executive Chef for Chef’s International restaurant group in Point Pleasant, N.J., where he oversees the development of the company’s Modern Mexican and Latin concept.
Avery resides in Wall, N.J. with his wife and three children. Avery enjoys maintaining a healthy lifestyle including avid exercise and outdoor training. For more information, visit www.chefjamesavery.com.