The son of an artist and English Professor, chef Cunninghame West was born in the lush, picturesque Appalachian countryside of Southwest Virginia. He started his culinary career at age 16 working in the kitchens of Mountain Lake Hotel.
Longing to learn to surf the warm waters of the Pacific, at age 18 Cunninghame moved to the West Coast where he worked at restaurants in Santa Barbara and Maui. It wasn’t until he moved to the Bay Area in 1995 that his real culinary education and love for cooking began. Hired by the Bradley Ogden protégé, Chef Steve Simmons of One Market, Campton Place and Lark Creek Inn fame, Cunninghame immersed himself in Chef Simmon’s innovative, rustic , California cuisine and quickly moved up to become his head Chef of the highly acclaimed Bubba’s Diner for 5 years.
Seattle, Washington was the next stop for chef Cunninghame, where he was quickly hired by his former surfing buddy, Chef Jason Wilson (one of the Top Ten New Chefs in North America declared by the prestigious Food and Wine Magazine) to be Sous Chef of Jeremiah Tower’s famed Stars Restaurant. This experience expanded his knowledge and technique of California cuisine. In 2001 chef Cunninghame moved to the emerging culinary capital of Las Vegas, where lady luck was shining on him when he walked into the kitchen of the James Beard award-winning chef Luciano Pellegrini of Valentino, the premier Italian Restaurant in Las Vegas. His 3 year tenure there as Sous Chef immersed him into the art of fine-dining Italian cuisine and prepared him to be Executive Chef of Gaetano’s Ristorante which was awarded the Best Restaurant off the strip during his stint there.
The dream of owning his own Restaurant finally caught up with chef Cunninghame, when an opportunity fell in his lap to move back to his hometown in Virginia. Nestled in the Appalachian mountains in a historic 100 year old Bank building, The Bank Restaurant has emerged as the top Restaurant in the New River Valley, earning 4 ½ stars from the Roanoke Times.
Chef Cunninghame is now delighted to return to Piero Selvaggio’s Valentino restaurant group as Executive Chef of the PS Valentino VinBar at the Hotel Derek in Houston, where he plans on carrying out the Valentino tradition of offering the finest Italian cuisine in the city.