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Neil Connolly leaves Orlando for New England

Written By Scott Joseph On August 1, 2009

Orlando has lost one of its top chefs, the result of a domino-effect of recession-related circumstances.

Neil Connolly, whose years as the private chef for the Kennedy family at their Cape Cod compound were related in the cookbook “In the Kennedy Kitchen,” has left Orlando to accept a job as food and beverage director at Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa in Whitefield, New Hampshire.

Connolly, whom Emeril Lagasse calls a mentor, was previously executive chef at the now-closed Doc’s restaurant. You’ll recall that Doc’s was to have been the classroom facility for a new Orlando campus for Professional Culinary Institute out of California. But PCI pulled the plug before the first culinary class could assemble. (PCI completed one section of its wine education course before leaving town.) Doc’s had previously closed so that a hotel could be built over the South Orange Avenue building. But the economy killed that project, so Doc’s reopened, only to close again to accommodate PCI exclusively.

Since that time, Connolly has been seeking another executive chef position in Central Florida, but to no avail. As with all professions, this is not a good time to be looking for work. So when the job in New Hampshire was offered, Connolly felt he could not turn it down.

But he told me last week that he is keeping his home in Orlando, where he has grandchildren, and hopes to return when times are better.

I hope so too.

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