Scott Fredel of Pilar Is a Fisherman, a Family Man, and Once Worked at EuroDisney
The family man has worked as a chef at some of Miami's finest dining spots like Norman's and Rumi. This lover of the sea named his restaurant after Hemingway's boat Pilar. A true sailor and a guy who loves fish, his eyes lit up when talking about these water bound beasts. His restaurant is located in Aventura, where the hungry can find a comfortable place to dine and relax.
New Times: You're from Miami. Is there a place you remember eating in Miami growing up that you really loved?
Scott Fredel: My uncle was actually Sol Kaplan he used to have The Pub and Embers, him and his brother Sol and Walter Kaplan, so that was always kinda fun going there. Big difference, they used to do three four thousand covers a night and there was really nowhere else around to go. You know, Joe's or whatever, just really those staple restaurants really.
You fished as a child. What is it about fishing that captures you?
We're in South Florida, so the water's beautiful a lot of people don't really realize that, just so close to the Bahamas. So, before, when I was in high school, like in the late '80s, early '90s, it was really easy just to run across, they didn't have customs and immigrations then, so I used to run to the Bahamas three, four times a week, just fish, you know, I wasn't really it it, I did it because I loved it, and I wasn't really in it to make money, just enough for gas money and the boat. Of course, I was bringing in the freshest seafood, and selling it for a quarter of what any other places were selling it for to restaurants and chefs, like on Lincoln Road, in that early stage when Miami was just kinda starting to get on board as far as a serious restaurant town.
How'd you get over there?
By boat. Well, I started off fishing with a friend and then I got my captain's license, and I would take care of a few different boats and I would use their boats until I got my own boat.
Adventurous! What led you to go the Culinary Institute of America?
It's funny. I went to Beach High, I graduated Beach High, and a friend of mine was already cooking from there, and another old time restaurant in North Bay Village was A Place for Steak so his grandfather owned A Place for Steak which was like the Embers back then, a lot of old timers will be familiar with it. And he was going, he was already working there, so when I decided I wanted to cook, I had to get a job first, because they wouldn't even take me. Now the schools are so hungry, they'll take everybody, but before you had to actually work for a year at an accredited restaurant, and the average age was back in CIA when I graduated, I think I was nine years younger than everybody in my class. I graduated at 20.
So, I had to get a job, so I got a job there. I didn't know much about schools, but he had already done all the groundwork and he was working there, and he was like come, we'll live together, it'll be fun in New York, and I had never left Miami Beach. So, it was exiting, and I thought, yeah, let's do it. I worked there, and he went up to CIA, and then I got accepted and he dropped out. But I ended up finishing, I went anyway. We never ended up living together, but that's how I got all hooked up into going to culinary school.
What happened between that and you becoming the executive chef at Rumi?
I finished CIA, they were opening, I wanted to go to Europe, my graduation was kind of a big deal, I was in school, Paul Bocuse' son was in my graduating class, which was a big deal, I don't know if you're aware, he's a real famous chef, one of the godfathers of cooking. You have Auguste Escoffier, the first chef to be a chef and not a slave, and then he had once disciple, and this guy was a disciple of that disciple, the last living disciple of Auguste Escoffier. So, his son was in my class, and he wasn't as serious as his father was but it was really cool, and it was kind of an in to go over there, and when I was finishing I saw in the recruiting office that Disney was opening their EuroDisney. So, I couldn't really get anything other than a two-month work visa unless I went there, so there I got an 18-month work visa.
So, I took that job because you couldn't work too many hours there because it was a big company, so I figured I'd get that job and then I'd stage with Bocuse and Alain Ducasse and Roger Verge and work with some great chefs over there. And just kind of go. I got that job, went over there, and then I ended up, it was this Pascal Oudin, he has a restaurant in the Gables called Pascal's on Ponce, a restaurant like mine, you know, cafe style, not really fine dining, but just good food, good prices. And Pascal before that was the executive chef at the Alexander on the beach but he's a French guy, his wife was from France and he wanted to be back in France. I had no idea any of this. He was the executive chef of EuroDisney at the time, which was a big job. He saw somewhere, someone was talking about fishing that I was from Miami Beach and, of course, it intrigued him because he had left Miami Beach because his wife was homesick or something. And, a really nice guy, and he actually hooked me up, and he was like you need to work here and here, this would be great. It was really neat.