He may have arrived in true Naples-style—by yacht onto the private dock of a mega-mansion in Port Royal—but chef Christian Le Squer’s voyage to the Paradise Coast had deeper meaning beyond the glitz of his welcome reception.
The real purpose of this vaulted French chef’s trip to Southwest Florida lay many miles away, deep in the heart of the tomato fields of Immokalee.
Le Squer, the head of Le Cinq at the iconic Georges V hotel in Paris, had been courted for quite some time by the Florida Culinary Accelerator at Immokalee, a facility and organization providing paths to entrepreneurship in the food world for those without the ability to afford their own commercial kitchens. The chef was therefore here this spring for something of a culinary coup—not only was this his first trip to the United States, but it also was arranged so that he could kick off a three-year contract with the Accelerator, in which he will help to educate and inspire chefs and entrepreneurs in our own backyard.
At the Immokalee farmers market
To give some perspective, there are only 14 three-star Michelin chefs in the United States in the 2016 Michelin Guide (representing restaurants solely in New York City, Chicago and the San Francisco/Napa Valley region). In France, the seat of modern haute gastronomy, there are 26.
While the heart of the Accelerator is a state-of-the-art, membership-driven commercial kitchen to be completed this summer where locals can negotiate fair leases to start their endeavors (and receive aid with the business side of the equation, such as packaging, distribution and marketing), Le Squer, who has many trips planned for the next few years, will use his experience and expertise to craft a mentorship program, master classes for area professionals and more.
The group was already off to a remarkable start; now, with a scintillating chef behind it, its forward trajectory is full-throttle.
Le Squer with local chefs
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