Scott Fredel of Pilar Is a Fisherman, a Family Man, and Once Worked at EuroDisney

Categories: Chef Interviews
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Miami born and raised, Chef ​Scott Fredel grew up enjoying Florida's fertile waters, fishing all the time. The chef left our sunny shores only for a taste of New York's Culinary Institute of America, and for a jaunt at EuroDisney, but we won't ruin his story for you. You can read it here yourself.

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.

Location Info

Pilar

20475 Biscayne Blvd., Aventura, FL

Category: Restaurant

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8 comments
misteraroun
misteraroun

Hello Scott, how are you ? I lost your contact :-(  Plaisire to see you in the New Times ...

Sfredel
Sfredel

Hello Kelly, This is Scott Fredel. I just noticed your comment in regards to this article. I spent a while trying to find a email address for you but had no luck, so decided to respond on here and maybe the system will forward the response to you. Your name does not ring a bell to me either. I am the son of Freddy Fredel, Sauls best friend of 50+ years, My dad came to miami after the war, same as Walter, from NY. I was only 14 when Walter passed away. I always like to talk about "Uncle" Saul (as I have refered to him since I could talk)  as he was a big influence in my life to enter the restaurant business, that it why I mentioned the Kaplans (in a very positive way) in the interview. When my parents divorced they were both bachelors again, living close to each other in the same building as they did until the end. From lighting a candle at my Bar Mitzvah, to spending dozens of holidays in his retirement; from Yom Kippur & Rosh Hashanah to Thanksgiving in my house with my dad and the rest of my family I do not recall meeting you once. In August of 2002 Uncle Saul was at the desk helping me negotiate my lease at Pilar, telling me and the landlord how it "really is" as he knew! and he would lay it on in Uncle Saul's colorfull way. After that he came nearly every single day during the construction of Pilar over the next 10 months to offer his advise & help. After we opened I would cook for him, lunch and dinner, but no matter how creative I got there was nothing he liked more than a great steak & baked potato. This went on until the day he passed away, at Aventura Hospital, that morning I ran across the street to see him. So before you decide the next time to publically bash an author and myself you should try to look into it a little...You could have just called the restaurant..? the info is right there in the article.

Kellyehoffman
Kellyehoffman

If the author of this article reads these posts please note the this man claiming to be Saul or Walter kaplans relative is not correct. We are the family of Walter and Saul (not sol) and have never heard of this guy. I think a retraction is in order! Signed the Kaplan family

Loving Pilar Restaurant!!!
Loving Pilar Restaurant!!!

omg! i have eaten ate Pilar many times with my family and friends.. We all love the food. I love the fish!  The fish is always fish and prepared simply so you can enjoy the flavor of the fish..NOT the sauce!!!  My family has eaten everything on the menu.  My father in law LOVES the chicken.  My sons love the cesar salad, the skirt steak, the mussels, the calamari and especially the desserts.  My husband enjoys the hamburger, steak and bussel sprouts.  You cannot go wrong eating here. there is something for everyone!!!  I was really impressed with the credentials of the Chef/ Owner Scott Fredel.   

Dawnmedina
Dawnmedina

The best!!!!! I'm an extremely picky eater, but I have ordered everything on the "Pilar" menu and have always cleaned my plate! Scott's a master... and, yes, not bad to look at either!

Michele
Michele

Pilar is my favorite restaurant...no wonder the fish is always the freshest and the yummiest.... but you can't say the skirt steak is the best in town because the owner has a passion for fishing...but the skirt steak is #1 in Miami....and talk about sizzling!...who knew the chef/owner was sooooo hot...next time I go to Pilar I will definitely make it a point to ask to see the chef for some important questions about his special fish recipe    

Francesca
Francesca

OMG... he really is so HOT! I can't believe he's not on TV.  I would watch him any day!

FCI Grad
FCI Grad

The Culinary Institute of America is not in "The Big Apple'"(NYC), it's upstate, in Hyde Park, NY. The French Culinary Institute is in The Big Apple(SOHO) at Broadway & Grand... 

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