The Palm Beaches are definitely a culinary destination, and the Food Network is starting to recognize that fact. In the past few years, they have highlighted pastry chefs, local restaurants, food trucks, and more. Now, it’s time for a regular at the West Palm Beach Green Market to hit the big time!
On the Downtown West Palm Beach Food Tour, he’s known as the coconut man, and soon he might just be known as Food Network’s Halloween Baking Champion! Let’s cheer for Jamal!
In advance of the season premiere of the Food Network’s Halloween Baking Championship, Jamal took a few moments out of his increasingly busy schedule to let us know a bit more about his culinary point of view, and why you should check out his family restaurant in downtown West Palm Beach.
How did you get started in the food industry?
I got my start in the pastry world baking with my neighbors easy bake oven and at home watching and helping my mom bake cakes and treats every Sunday morning as a child. This is what sparked my love and appreciation for baking. My childhood friend Nicole and I would bake all types of cakes and cookies and sell them around the neighborhood back in St.Croix, USVI.
Although I had many passions to make a career out of, baking brought the most joy in my heart. In high school I took a culinary course which inspired me pursue a career in international baking, pastry and food and beverage management at the Florida Culinary Institute in West Palm Beach, FL, where I graduated with honors.
I’ve had the opportunity to work at some of Florida’s top restaurant and resorts like Bice Ristorante Palm Beach, PGA National Resort and the Breakers Hotel Palm Beach.
Can you tell us a little more about your business?
Always having the desire to be an entrepreneur, I started a business at the West Palm Beach Green Market where I sold fresh coconuts, tropical juices and rum cakes. The cakes and juices got so popular that people were asking why I didn’t have a place where they can get them throughout the week. So together Joan and I opened up Ganache Bakery Cafe.
Ganache Bakery Cafe is located at 120 S Dixie Highway, Suite 103, in downtown West Palm Beach, FL. We do tropical juices, rum cakes, sandwiches, smoothies, assorted desserts and custom cakes for any occasion.
What is your philosophy on dining?
My philosophy on dining is the every experience should be as good as if it was your last.
Of all the dishes on the current menu, which is your favorite?
Of all the items on our menu. My two favorite desserts are the Cruzan Rum Cakes and our Chocolate Ganache Cake. I love Ganache so much that’s why we decided to name our bakery after it.
Are you enjoying your time in Florida?
I am enjoying life here in Florida, especially since the weather is similar to the weather in the Islands. Always sunny and tropical.
Can you tell us a little bit about why people enjoy fine dining? `
My favorite experiences is dining is when the restaurant pays attention to detail and emphasizes on excellent customer service.
What is the funniest thing to happen to you in your cooking career?
The funniest thing to happen to me in my culinary career is the day the I was working at a resort in St.Croix, USVI, went to use the restroom just getting off of a long tiring shift and fell asleep in the restroom stall for about an hour or so.
My older sister was giving me a ride home and was wondering what is taking me so long to get out. Security and kitchen staff was looking for me. When I woke up I couldn’t believe I slept so long in a restroom stall.
I know that many restaurants in South Florida now focus on using more local cuisine. What ingredients are you planning on highlighting this season?
We incorporate local ingredients into our menu by using fresh coconut and tamarind in drinks. We also make desserts using passion fruit in cake fillings /ganache and starfruit in fresh fruit tarts which I grow in my own back yard.
More and more chefs in the Palm Beaches have become involved in cooking contests featured on the Food Network. What advice would you give to up and coming chefs interested in competition?
More chefs in the area are indeed entering Food Network competitions, and the advice I can give to them is to be true the your type of cuisine and flavor. You have to be flexible and learn how to thinks fast. Always give your best in everything you do and be open to criticism, weather good or bad. And have fun!!
We’d like to thank the West Palm Beach Food Tours for helping to coordinate this interview, as well as Chef Jamal Lake for agreeing to be profiled here. Visit the West Palm Beach Food Tours website to get a chance to sample not only Jamal’s cuisine, but more than a dozen other restaurants as well!
Be sure to catch Jamal and the other amazing bakers on the Food Network’s Halloween Baking Championship, which premieres on Monday, September 24th at 9:00 pm.
If you’re a local chef whose cuisine matches up to the best out there, we’d love to talk to you. Contact us and perhaps you can be the next celebrity chef!