After a lengthy stint as executive chef at Daniel Boulud's Café Boulud in Palm Beach, Zach Bell '97 has taken a position as executive chef at the Addison Reserve Country Club in Del Ray Beach. Leaving Boulud wasn't an easy decision. "More than a third of my life has been with Boulud," he said. "But I have a chance to completely change the way people think of country club cuisine."Hailing from Clermont, Florida, Zach's early fascination with the kitchen dates back to the fourth grade, when his family’s relocation meant several months residing at a hotel. He was captivated with the workings of the hotel kitchen, which became his after school playground. At age 14, he went to work at a local restaurant, beginning as a dish washer and climbing his way up to becoming a cook.
At Valencia College, Zach began studying physical therapy, but again found himself drawn to the kitchen. During a stint at the Orlando Marriott, the executive chef encouraged him to transfer to JWU's culinary program. While still a student, Zach joined chefs Marc Poidevin and Sascha Lyon at Miami’s Biz Bistro, where he remained long after graduation. These first steps in a French kitchen established the direction for his future. He absorbed the technique, care and attention to detail that set this cooking apart and refined his approach to vegetables, garnishes and sauces. After only two years Chef Poidevin invited him to follow the team to Le Cirque 2000 in New York. He soon settled into an East Village apartment, a new city and an entirely different caliber of kitchen. Le Cirque Chef Sottha Khun soon promoted Zach from the banquet kitchen to chef de partie tournant, and later saucier, providing a valuable opportunity to train at each station.
At Le Cirque, Zach worked alongside then sous chef Andrew Carmellini who went on to open Café Boulud with Daniel Boulud in October 1998. Three months later Zach followed as saucier and soon sous-chef at Café Boulud New York.
Since opening Café Boulud Palm Beach, Zach has earned the restaurant numerous accolades including Wine Spectator Magazine’s Best of Award of Excellence, four stars in the Mobil Travel Guide, Boca Raton Magazine’s awards for Best New Kid on the Block, Stellar Hotel Restaurant, and Most Exciting New Menu, as well as Florida Trend Magazine’s Golden Spoon Award. Most recently Zach was nominated for “Rising Star Chef of the Year” for the South award by the James Beard Foundation.
Zach is also a dedicated member of the Palm Beach community, contributing to culinary events for The Daily Bread Food Bank, The March of Dimes and an annual gala for Share Our Strength, which he has hosted since 2006. He also teaches local school children about fresh food and makes regular recipe demo appearances on WXEL TV’s "South Florida Today."