“Hospitality is ingrained in everything we do at FineMark. Having a chef on staff allows us to serve our clients in a warm and personal atmosphere,” says Adria Starkey, Collier County President for FineMark National Bank and Trust Company.
An alumna of the Johnson & Wales Culinary Arts Program, Chef Lauren Simon became the executive chef of the Naples FineMark office in 2015.
I recently met with Chef Simon to tour the kitchen (which has the first non-ducted professional hood I’ve ever seen) and ask a few questions.
What do you think about the pre-packaged food trend?
LS: I think it’s a good idea for convenience but it really doesn’t help people who really don’t want to cook. If you learn good meal planning and good techniques you can save yourself a lot of money.
When creating an event, what do you hope participants take away?
LS: I hope they feel inspired and less intimidated. Once they see someone demonstrate techniques they are more likely to try it themselves.
What cookbook should everyone own?
LP: Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking
It’s very intimidating if you don’t cook but, it’s great for learning good foundation techniques.
What are the top 3 tools in your kitchen?
LS: Cast iron skillet, immersion blender, Vitamix blender
Who inspires you as a cook?
LS: My grandmother first got me interested in cooking. I follow a lot of food bloggers who make really good food from their own kitchens.
Who are your go-to’s on Instagram?
Local love list…what is your favorite local food or place to eat out in Southwest Florida?
LS: I love mangoes! I have clients who bring me fresh mangoes they have grown themselves and they are delicious.
What would people be surprised to find in your refrigerator?
LS: They would be surprised to find it empty. I like to buy my food the day I prepare it.
1 word to describe your cooking style?
What’s your guilty pleasure snack food?
LS: Candycorn – I love that you can find it almost any time of the year now!
*This article was update to reflect Chef Lauren’s married name.