A typical nine-to-five wasn’t going to satisfy Reid McAllister.

The Terrace Park native had recently earned a degree in environmental policy and history from Hobart College in New York when he decided that he didn’t want to sit at a desk every day. He’d already been working where his life’s passion lay: in the kitchen.

McAllister, who became executive chef at McCormick & Schmick’s downtown in May, says his culinary career began at age 6, when he started helping his mother cook. By age 14, he was working at Mio’s Pizzeria in Mariemont, “bustin’ suds and rollin’ pizza dough.” When the Maisonette group introduced Bistro Gigi in Mariemont Square, McAllister was “the persistent boy out back begging for a job” until he got one.

He has since worked in kitchens from Baton Rouge, La., where he prepared a record-setting 22-pound lobster, to Dallas, Wilmington, Del., and, most recently, Jackson, Miss.

“I crave variety, whether it be in food or service or day-to-day activity,” he says.

Part of the variety that McAllister incorporates into his daily schedule at McCormick & Schmick’s is taking the time to interact with diners, whom he emphasizes are integral to his success.

Recently married, McAllister and his wife decided to move to Cincinnati to be near family, and they now live in Deer Park. McAllister cites his mother as the motivation for his career. However proud she is, though, it’s clear who’s the dominant cook when he visits his childhood home. “She doesn’t let me in the kitchen,” McAllister says.

Kitchen tool you cannot live without: These (waves his hands). Ultimately, they’re the extension by which all tools work. Other than that, my 3-inch ceramic utility knife (Kuhn Rikon). I keep it in my pocket so I can easily take it out and show people things if I need to. I’ve had it for two years and haven’t had to sharpen it once.

Specialty cuisine: American regional.

Favorite food to prepare:
Lobster. I can prepare it at least 23 different ways.

Favorite comfort food to prepare at home: My favorite comfort food is meatloaf, but I don’t cook at home. My wife, being from Louisiana, is the chef there. I come home to jambalaya, etoufette, chicken and dumplings — home-style Southern cooking.

Favorite cookbook: Escoffier’s La Guide Culinaire. He’s been dead for 100 years and his influence still reigns in everything we do. I also like The Minimalist series by Mark Bittmann.

If you could go anywhere and cook with any ingredient: No matter where or what, I’m just happy to get paid to do what I’m passionate about.

— Lindsay Kottmann