244 Palm Street
Like the glory days of Teddy Roosevelt, the Rough Riders at the old Tampa Hotel and the winter homes of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford in Fort Myers, there seems to be a casual elegance that is the essence of ...More about Cafe De Marco »
Café de Marco
244 Palm Street, Old Marco. Phone: 394-6262. Hours: Serving dinner 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday; twilight specials from 5 to 5:45 p.m.
Began working at present restaurant?
Ten years ago, at the beginning of season 1999.
What is it about food that made you decide to cook for a living?
When I was a kid growing up in Haiti my friends and I would go fishing, and I would bring the fish home and prepare the fish different ways for my family. When I was older I decided I would like to really learn about cooking all kinds of food and became an apprentice at one of the big resort hotels in Port au Prince and worked my way up to chef.
What was your first restaurant job?
Here in Florida it was the Eagle Creek Country Club on Collier Boulevard.
How long have you been cooking professionally?
About 19 years including the restaurants that I worked at in Port au Prince.
What is the most unusual dish you ever cooked?
A traditional Haitian dish that’s similar to ratatouille, but is unusual because we also include beef and spinach and serve it with rice and beans on the side.
Are you planning changes to your menu for the summer season?
I am glad you asked. Move over Café Puff and instead it’s our new summer feature dessert: A Triple Layer Fresh Strawberry Banana Cream Puff that’s a spin-off on our Café Puff sans ice cream. Also, our specials do change nightly, and especially in summer with so many seasonal fruits and vegetables and seafood items — some available for a short time — that we do utilize for our evening specials.
What is the most popular dish on your menu?
That would be our signature dish Jumbo Prawns and also our Chef’s Specials. For instance, for this evening we just got in some beautiful fresh caught red snapper that I’m going to prepare with a macadamia nut crumb crust and pair with my seasonal fresh mango salsa.
What is one food that you’ll never eat? Why?
Frog’s legs. The first time I cooked them I broke out in a rash the next day. Maybe it was a coincidence because since then I can prepare them but I won’t eat them ever again!
Who would you like to cook a meal for? Why?
My children because they’re my fussiest critics, when I try out a new dish at home that I’d like to make for an evening special here at the Café. My six-year-old son Randy Jean, is my best test kitchen taster.
What is your most essential cooking implement?
I have a set of knives that I use interchangeably.
What is your favorite TV cooking show?
I like to surf the channels and watch the various shows when I have the time.
What would you like to be doing if you weren’t a chef?
I have a passion for fresh seafood. I guess a fisherman or maybe share my considerable experience and teach students at a cooking school.
What annoys you most in the kitchen?
I am very focused when I cook so I can block out anything that could distract me.
What do you enjoy most about your profession?
I like to create new dishes and enjoy preparing them for our Café de Marco evening specials. Then afterwards I enjoy hearing our wait staff tell me how much our guests enjoyed their dinners.