Before Eagle Scout Jeremy Fogg tries to Beat Bobby Flay on the popular Food Network series, let’s look back on a similarly tough cooking competition.
I’m referring, of course, to the Dutch Oven Cobbler Cookoff at summer camp.
At the time, Fogg was an adult leader in Troop 787 of Winter Springs, Fla. He had plenty of kitchen experience, but this was years before he was hand-picked by Emergil Lagasse to be pastry chef at his restaurant in New Orleans.
The competition pitted Fogg against some of the best Scouting chefs in Florida.
And guess what? His peach sour cream cobbler took the crown.
Fogg was a Cub Scout in Pack 787 and then a Boy Scout in Troop 787. He earned Eagle in 2005.
After that, he attended Le Cordon Bleu culinary school and fell in love with baking. He graduated in 2008 and made pastries for the Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee, Fla., and later the Hilton Orlando. Emeril hired Fogg in February 2014 and promoted him to pastry chef five months later.
In 2015, the American Culinary Federation named Fogg Louisiana’s Best Pastry Chef in part because of his Banana Coffee Mousse Cake. Yum.
I caught up with Fogg to talk Scouting and his career. He says the BSA taught him leadership and planning skills that help him in the kitchen.
One thing Fogg wouldn’t discuss: details about his appearance on Beat Bobby Flay. For that, I’ll have to tune in just like everyone else.
The episode — called “Who Done It?” — airs at 10 p.m. EST (9 CST) on Jan. 4. Set your DVR now.
Q&A: Jeremy Fogg, award-winning pastry chef for Emeril’s in New Orleans
Bryan Wendell: What’s your favorite Scouting memory?
Jeremy Fogg: “I have so many, honestly, but one of my favorites is definitely when our Venturing crew traveled to Oregon and went whitewater rafting on the Rogue River. It was a five-day, 50 mile trip. We camped overnight on the banks of the river and cooked all our own food on the trip. It was pretty incredible.”
BW: What was your Eagle project?
JF: “We cleaned the cemetery in Oviedo [Fla.] where a large number of my mom’s side of the family is buried. It had become overgrown, headstones were black with mold and dirt. So I got a team together to trim back the overgrowth and pressure-wash the headstones. We found some that had been buried completely and after cleaning realized they were from the late 1800s.”
BW: Wild guess here … Was the Cooking merit badge your favorite merit badge?
JF: “Honestly, I don’t remember much about the Cooking merit badge, but I think that’s because I hadn’t decided to become a chef at that point. I enjoyed cooking, but wasn’t sure if it was my calling at that point. My favorite merit badge was the Cycling merit badge.”
BW: Did you make any decadent desserts on Scout trips?
JF: “The most memorable dessert we ever made camping was the monkey bread. It’s the inspiration for my King Cake Monkey Bread I make at Emeril’s every year for Mardi Gras.”
BW: How does Scouting most help you as a pastry chef?
JF: “The leadership and planning skills are what aid the most. I lead a team of five pastry cooks at Emeril’s, and I’m responsible for all the bread and dessert operations for the restaurant. I’ve also helped Emeril open two restaurants in the past 18 months and had to plan the menus and openings for those as well as train and lead those teams of cooks. Being able to plan properly and lead the teams to get all the work done is a very large component of my position, and I learned a lot of those skills through Scouting. Cooking and eating all the great food on camping trips certainly helped, too.”
BW: What’s the proudest moment of your career?
JF: “There have been so many amazing moments. But I’d have to say that having the respect of Emeril Lagasse and knowing that he relies on me for so many projects is pretty awesome.”
BW: What’s next for Jeremy Fogg, pastry chef?
JF: “I’ll be working with Emeril for the foreseeable future. There are some projects in the works for the next few years, and he says he has plans for me. But ultimately I would like to open my own bakery and restaurant in honor of my mom and grandma, featuring my takes on my grandma’s classic dishes.”
BW: What advice would you give Scouts?
JF: “Don’t let opportunities pass you by, because you never know if they’ll come to you again. Life is short, and you don’t want to spend it wondering ‘what if?’ So apply for that job, take that trip, tell that person how you feel. It may not always work out, but if you don’t take the chance, it definitely won’t. I didn’t think I was ready for the pastry chef position at Emeril’s when I applied for it, but it’s been four years now, and my career has skyrocketed since then. My life has changed. You never know unless you try.”