Emmanuel Boscherel occupies a unique niche in Marco Island's resort restaurant scene because he is one of the few professional pastry chefs on the Island who can claim that title, unlike other chefs who may be executive chefs, sous chefs or garde manger who also prepares desserts for the restaurant. Boscherel is the pastry chef at Sale e Pepe, an Italian restaurant known not only for its superlative dining experience (attributable to Executive Chef Alberto Varetto) but equally for its exquisitely presented desserts. Did I mention that Pastry Chef Emmanuel creates each one to order with the best ingredients available from upscale suppliers around the globe?
That having been said, Pastry Chef Emmanuel also shares a commonality with those chefs whose desire to attend a culinary school at a young age wasn't influenced by external circumstances.
"By the time I was 10, I knew what direction I wanted to go. True, my mom cooked, but what she really taught me was to use the best quality ingredients, all the things I ate when I was young." said Pastry Chef Emmanuel, lamenting that what he really missed in this country were "the little local farms where you could buy everything, from produce and fresh milk to freshly-laid eggs, fowl or meats."
"At fifteen I entered a specialty school, the Lycee Nicolas Appert in Orvault, Loire Atlantique, France and enrolled in the five-year Hotel and Catering Management program - you know, everything - front desk, cook, housekeeping, server, even dishwasher.'' Pastry Chef Emmanuel declared, explaining that the GM of a resort was required to know everything, and the school gave students all the tools, with an added emphasis on food and beverage."
"The last thing I remember before registration is the director spoke to us and told it like it was - 14 to 16 hours were the easy part - giving students an out before registering for school. My mother even asked 'are you sure?' just before I signed up.
"I was 20 when I graduated. My school was more difficult than the CIA and it had four kitchens and four dining areas. There were 500 of us, and before vacation we had to clean everything in two days. It had to be immaculate and kept looking new. Sometimes, we cleaned with acid so that after five years everything still had to look brand new. Every year the school sent us to do a restaurant internship and I did four of them in France. In 1996 I did my training in America. The school sent me to the Ocean House in Dennisport on the Cape for 4 months. It's still there, open from May through October, but under different management," he said, adding that he was treated well, but the living conditions didn't measure up. "I expected more, so I went back to France and graduated."
"I picked my spots. My teachers helped me find employers," Pastry Chef Emmanuel explained, noting that connections were important when he obtained work in La Ferme du Letty, a one star Michelin restaurant.
"But I wanted to keep going - one, two and three stars is the highest - and found work in Le Domaine des hauts de Loire, a Michelin two-star restaurant in Nantes owned by Vincent Guerlais, an exceptional chocolatier who later became my friend and then my mentor," he said, noting that his next employer was the Michelin three-star Four Seasons restaurant in Paris.
"Here's how it works, Four Seasons is known everywhere, but in Paris it's the baby, the one that gets the best - 10-star service - perfect, perfect, perfect! All the celebrities stayed there and ate in the restaurant. The Four Season is where I first started cooking - I love to do fish. Meanwhile, when I'm on vacation I keep in touch with Vincent, first in Nantes, then I followed him to Vannes in Brittany.
"When I go home, I work with him to learn what is new. His shop is high-end retail; they do wonderful gourmet ice cream, the chocolates are all handmade, we sell what we produce using artisanal techniques and natural ingredients. I was always learning in France and on vacations I would go to Vincent - he was like a mentor - always helping me perfect my pastry skills.
"After Four Seasons, I decided I was knowledgeable enough to accept a chef's position to maintain the quality and skills I was accustomed to and agreed to work one month at Sale e Pepe. They (Marco Beach Ocean Resort) wanted to see what I could do and if I was a good fit for the company. That was six years ago and I'm still focused on doing what I can to make this a five-star resort - no - make that the best resort in Florida!