Florida only state in US with an official chef

TAMARA LUSH Associated Press Published:

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Move over, Mario Batali. Step aside, Gordon Ramsey. There's a new chef on the cusp of celebrity in the U.S., and he's from Florida.

Justin Timineri's job requires being a culinary ambassador, farm expert and cheerleader for Florida food. Technically, he's a state employee working for the Florida Department of Agriculture. He's also the only full-time state chef in the nation.

Timineri -- a former NASCAR cook -- travels the state showing people how to use Florida-grown fruits and vegetables in recipes. He's also a booster for Florida during trade missions and in TV spots.

The 37-year-old chef's mission this year: teaching schoolchildren to eat healthier. As part of the Department of Agriculture's new effort to get kids to eat veggies, Timineri does in-school cooking demos dubbed "Extreme Cuisine."