Chef Christian Le Squer: Immokalee’s latest asset

Many people have great business ideas, but do not have any knowledge about the aspects of business, unfortunately, many of these ideas remain nothing more than a dream. However, under the direction of Dr. Marshall Goodman, Naples Accelerator, is dedicated to assisting new entrepreneurs expand their ideas into growing businesses. Naples Accelerator does this by offering mentor programs and other essentials such as: national and international support, funding opportunities, workspace, and networking. Additionally, Jace Kentner, director of the Collier County Business & Economics Development Division is also dedicated to helping new business get started and become successful. Recently, Dr. Goodman, and Mr. Kentner teamed up and designed a program specifically for Immokalee and will benefit Immokalee residences.

Since Immokalee is known for its produce, Goodman and Kentner, with the help of private donors, brought in Chef Christian Le Squer to mentor a lucky person who has a good recipe to bring to the market. Three stars is the highest Michelin rating. Chef Le Squer has received 3 Michelin stars in 2008, and again in 2016. Since 2014, Le Squer has been working as head chef at Le Cinq, a restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel George V in Paris. “We’re looking for new recipes to add to our infrastructure,” Goodman points out. Kentner adds: “We’re looking to build Immokalee’s economy.” Kentner grew up in a farm town and knows the importance of embracing and marketing a community’s produce. He is quick to point out that the fields are filled with a lot of hardworking people with great ideas. He wants to help people develop those ideas and bring them to the market. He’s confident that several business will start from this program.

The winner will be determined by a contest, in which his/her recipe is tasted and the marketability will be determined. The lucky person chosen, will work side by side next to Le Squer, who is a humble down-to-earth man. Le Squer looks at this project as a learning experience where he can pick up different ways that locally grown produce can be consumed. “Today’s chefs need to travel a lot…They need to mix things (food from different cultures).” Le Squer points out the he’s not here to make a change. He wants to add “My personal touch to a local taste.” Whatever recipe is the winner, the product will be manufactured in Immokalee. Le Squer states that he “is like a film-maker… The French are good technicians that help perfect things.”

In order to qualify for this unique opportunity, a chef, or entrepreneur, must sign up for the Naples Accelerator program. Also, the person will also need to be Food Safe Certified in order to work in the Naples Accelerator’s kitchen. The Naples Accelerator will teach the new entrepreneur how to raise venture capital, develop a business plan, and obtain legal help. Even if you don’t win the coveted mentorship, Naples Accelerator will help you turn a passion into a dream. If worse comes to worse, heed the words of Le Squer when he quotes his mother: “If there’s a chef in your family, you’ll never go hungry.”

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