By: Dale King Contributing Writer
Zach Bell, a four-time James Beard Award finalist for Best Chef: South, is leaving his post as executive chef at the Addison Reserve Country Club in Delray Beach for 8 years, to join the Palm Beach–based Ember Group, a gourmet restaurant group chain made up of partners Clay Conley, Piper Quinn and Sam Slattery.
He will be the group’s director of culinary operations.
“Clay and I share a similar philosophy and style; we both spent our formative years grinding in the kitchens of high profile, incredibly successful chef/restaurateurs and know how much work goes into creating a thriving restaurant operation,” said Bell, a Central Florida native who spent his formative years in New York working alongside Chef Andrew Carmellini with culinary legend Daniel Boulud.
“Clay and his partners have built an incredible team and I am excited to become part of the fold,” added the Delray gourmand.
At Addison Reserve, the seventh-ranked private club in America, Bell oversees seven different dining venues as well as all private dining and special events for the club. In addition to his extensive dining abilities, Bell boasts extensive experience in overseeing the operational aspects of running restaurants – from developing training programs to the nuts and bolts of day-to-day management.
“Zach and I got to know each other when I first arrived in Palm Beach,” said Conley, who moved from Miami to Palm Beach County to open Buccan restaurant in 2011. “From then on, we’ve been friends and colleagues, supportive of each other’s efforts.”
The opportunity to join the Ember team came from an ongoing conversation between the chefs over the past several months. At Ember, Bell will oversee operations for Buccan, Grato, Imoto and the Buccan Sandwich Shop as the group begins to assess new opportunities for growth.
Helping to recognize and train talented chefs has been one of Bell’s best capabilities, dating back to his work/study position in the Career Development Office at Johnson & Wales when he was in culinary school.
Bell came to Palm Beach from New York in 2003 to open Boulud’s first venture outside New York City, the award-winning Café Boulud in the town of Palm Beach, and he also helped open Boulud’s Miami restaurant.
He left in 2011 to become executive chef of the Addison Reserve Country Club in Delray Beach.
Ember Group, founded by Conley, Quinn and Slattery, is a family-owned and operated, Palm-Beach based brand. Since opening Buccan in Palm Beach in 2011, the group has grown to include neighboring Imoto and the Sandwich Shop. They opened Grato in West Palm Beach in 2016.