Scott Fredel of Pilar Is a Fisherman, a Family Man, and Once Worked at EuroDisney
I was like gung ho. I went over there with a backpack and I was like ready to leave at any given minute I could just throw my stuff and go and work somewhere else. So, my mission was to get a long-term visa, and just go over there and learn as much as I could for that 18 months, cause I was so young when I went there. A lot of people had a lot more experience.
So, EuroDisney, how was that?
It was crazy, because now it's really evolved but when I first went there, that's when they were battling, they had like, my first day of work they had tanks. Tanks. The army was there guarding because they built it, EuroDisney got built by an American company on the most fertile land outside of Paris, farming land. So, the farmers were pissed because not only was the land taken, but it was taken by an American company. The farmers were rebelling against the company. It was really ugly. All while I was there after six months they finally got smart and hired a French company to operate all the food and beverage, which I still think they do to this day. The French company came in, made peace, amends with everybody and started buying food from those farmers. They were still pissed off that they were there, that wasn't changing. They started buying all their product... They were bringing everything in, I guess it's a Disney thing, they were bringing product from here instead of supporting the local area, so it really pissed everybody off. I remember the first time I got off the train, and I had never really gone anywhere, from Miami Beach to New York to Paris, and it was literally like there were 40 tanks, 40 armed tanks.
I came back from there, when I came back and worked for Dennis Max on Max's on South Beach. I was Gary Simon's sous chef for awhile, and that kind of fell apart with them, they fought and that's when the chef du cuisine was friends with Norman Van Aken and they said, yeah, you know, you work great, why don't come over here, we're going to open Norman's. And I opened Norman's and I was there for a few years and that's it and then I did a thing for a friend of mine at Stella Blue, I was a chef at restaurant and bar and partner that we did on Lincoln Road where Miss Yip's is.
Was. They closed, they moved to Biscayne. What about Rumi?
Then I went to Rumi. I was going to do Pilar on a space on the beach where Sardinia, the Italian restaurant right there on the corner on Purdy. My friend owns the Purdy Lounge that I grew up with on the beach, and I was trying to buy that building from the owner, and I gave the deposit, I was going to buy that building and be the landlord to the other tenants and keep that space for Pilar, cause I always had the plan to do that. Then the guy screwed me, that's when the beach property was just going completely nuts. I had a contract that I thought was for the building, he said it was for the space and I wasn't really, I was too young and stupid, he screwed me, and he knows he said what he said, but whatever. That fell apart.
Then Alan Roth from the beach, Alan, who we also all grew up together, had the Rumi space that he was trying to put together, and he found an investor, and the investor said they really have to have it as a restaurant. They don't want it to be a typical club thing. He said flat out, I need you to do this, I'm sorry about the other thing, but this is going to be great, it'll be awesome, and I promise it'll be a serious restaurant. And it'll be great.
I went there when I was younger, but I never ate there.
I was there when while it was open for two years. And I told them that I was going to look for a space. The other thing was I was the only married guy with kids in the whole group of eight of us. And to be a partner, I was like a working partner, in something like that to have all these guys, it just gets out of hand, especially when your partnership and bonuses are on a fixed number, and they're going nuts, just typical South Beach. It was just nuts. I said, look, I'm going to do this, I want to do this, but eventually, I'm still going to look for my own little place. So, I actually started building this while I was still over there. They were like, fine, it's cool, you know. And the place was awesome, you know we were packed for dinner, we were really a serious restaurant. It was really cool and they kept their word. We did great. I did James Beard through there, won a bunch of great stuff, and it was fun. It was definitely an amazing experience. Everything happens for a reason and I'm glad that I did that.
How did you leave there?
I found this space, this center, because they built that overpass, this center was really hurting and just sold, but the demographics are the largest and the most central spot in all of Aventura and it was a great corner. And the corner was vacant, it was a bagel place for 18 years before this, and they evicted them and they wanted someone with a great name that would make a really nice restaurant and they gave me a really great deal. So, I took it, I told them, and I still stayed there for like a year as I was building this out. But I had brought a partner, a friend of mine J.D. who I grew up with too, who's still one of my best friends, so it didn't really matter cause I had J.D. around so they would be fine regardless.
Yeah, but then they all fought.
And then they closed.
Yeah, the whole thing just kind of fell apart. And J.D., we were friend with Matt Damon, J.D. ended up, right when I left, he's like, I don't want to be there without you, I'm just going to stay with Matt full time, you know.
So, he's Matt Damon's chef?
Make sure to read less about Matt Damon, and more about sustainable fishing in the second part of this interview.
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