Hilton Head Social Bakery at Shelter Cove Harbour & Marina
Author: Linda S. Hopkins | Photographer: M.Kat Photography
On a sunny, mid-September day, sitting under an umbrella overlooking Shelter Cove Harbour & Marina where his new business is almost ready to open, wearing paint-splattered work pants and a Life is Good® T-shirt, Chef Philippe Feret blends in with the construction crew. His fiancée, Marissa Bumpus, sports blisters on her hands and a twinkle in her eye as she, also, is immersed in the vision of what is to come and willing to do whatever it takes (from woodworking to tasting!) to bring it to fruition.
Passion and energy ooze like buttercream frosting from a pastry bag as Feret describes each detail of the design and décor—a feast for the eyes that begins at the entrance. From the reclaimed wood flooring, salvaged from J.P. Morgan’s apartment in New York City and cabinetry handcrafted from a disassembled nineteenth-century barn in upstate New York to custom-designed pastry racks for display and a floating sheaf of wheat, every item is deliberate. “It’s all about the first sense that people have,” Feret said, explaining the significance of the artifacts and elements he has chosen.
You see, Feret knows he can tantalize your taste buds. He has thrilled world leaders, celebrities, business magnates and everyday patrons of the world’s finest restaurants with his cooking and baking skills. What he has in mind for Hilton Head Island is an experience that evokes a feeling as much as a taste.
The making of a chef
At four years old, French-born Feret stood on a stool his father made for him so that he could reach the counter to help decorate truffles at a family-owned bakery in Paris. “As a baby, I was already working into the industry,” Feret said. “Before I knew anything, I already knew how to roll the croissant.”
Feret spent his youth working at his parents’ bakery, sometimes not so happy to be there. “I tried to find any excuses to run away from the bakery,” he said. But by age 18, he had already begun to see how the skills he learned at his daddy’s knee could open doors and invite opportunities.
With a hunger for adventure and desire to learn, Feret came to America 30 years ago. “I thought it was very important that I should learn how to speak English. I came with $300 and knowing only [how to say] good morning and goodbye.” Using his culinary knowledge and experience, Feret rapidly worked his way into the most elite dining establishments wherever he went, and it was during this time that he fully embraced the gift his family had bestowed by putting him to work as a youngster.
“I realized how important it was, because every time I was going to work in those restaurants, I could jump in pastry and bakery,” he said. “That’s what was making me special, because not that many people can do that. My dad taught me all the sugar work—pulling sugar, stretching sugar, all the decoration…I remember as a kid looking at him doing all those beautiful sugar things. I didn’t understand why he was even bothering, but I was lucky that he took the time to teach me.”
Feret’s career path has taken him from world-renowned French restaurants, including Taillevent in Paris, where he was pastry chef, to New York City where he was recruited as executive chef by Joe Baum to reopen Windows on the World in 1996 after the 1993 bombing of the building forced it to close. Feret subsequently served as executive chef at Café Centro, The Regency Hotel, The Maurice at the Parker Meridian, Tavern on the Green and for international caterers Tentation, Potel & Chabot, culminating with his own Upper East Side Manhattan restaurant, Brasserie Julien and Allure Catering, where he was in business for 15 years.
Weary of the fast-paced life and rapid turnover rates inherent to the bustling NYC restaurant scene, Feret recently packed up his creativity along with his high-spirited personality and passion for cooking and moved to Hilton Head Island, where he is opening his first-ever bakery. With his trusted comrade and acclaimed French pastry chef Youssef Samba (also from New York City), he’s bringing a brand new concept to the local dining scene with an emphasis on quality social interaction to complement the fresh ingredients and scratch-made baked goods.
“It is important for us to let people know that what we are doing here is the authenticity of the bread and pastries of the old days. Everything is made here on the premises,” Feret said. “It’s not coming frozen or from another company that prepares ready-to-eat pastries. Even the decoration and presentation, you cannot buy. The only way you can have it is if you do it yourself.”
Bakery patrons can bear witness to his claim, because Feret has installed two TVs in the window—not for sports viewing, but so that customers can get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the bakery operations. “As you get your breakfast and lunch, you will see the action. It’s like having a cooking show live,” Feret explained.
The social side
As excited as he is about his product, Feret’s passion goes much deeper than the pastry of the day and a morning cup of joe. “I want a place where it’s not about just food. It’s about people—about having something else—having a great environment where you feel different.
For Feret, the social interaction is as critical to his success as the deliciousness of his baked goods. “We love people. We are social people. We come from very large families, and we always share. We believe that helping people helps us, not only in business, but on the inside,” Feret said.
“I knew from day-one what I wanted it to be,” he continued. “When you’re a chef, you can be a good chef or you can be a different chef.”
Feret’s vision has come to life at Shelter Cove Harbour & Marina. The difference is in the details.
Hilton Head Social Bakery is located at Shelter Cove Harbour & Marina, 1 Harbourside Lane, Hilton Head Island, open 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. For more information, call (843) 715-3349, visit hiltonheadsocialbakery.com or follow on Facebook at hiltonheadbakery.
A Gastronomic Delight
Hilton Head Social Bakery is now open, offering fresh pastries including Danish, croissants, brioche and other homemade breads along with small lunch items such as sandwiches, salads, quiches, soufflés and crepes, and a selection of desserts and fine chocolates including truffles, chocolate covered ginger, chocolate covered lemon peels, and dark chocolate dusted macadamia nuts. In the Gourmet Selects retail area, you will find marinated sugars and salts in Le Creuset® containers, gift boxes of chocolates, peach ketchup, peach barbecue sauce and other culinary delights, all produced in house. Enjoy Fair Trade organic coffees at the coffee bar and help yourself to free refills.
Drop in, meet the chef, mingle among friends and indulge your appetite for life’s sweetness. Take a right at the Neptune statue, look for the gorgeous display of French delicacies in the window and watch the chefs at work behind the scenes. Stay for the lovely view of the harbor, and enjoy some shopping while you’re there!