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C.E. Maurice Belanger

After more than five prosperous years in the Information Technology industry, Maurice decided to take a leap of faith and dive in, head-first, into a full-fledged journey to pursue his passion into the culinary realm. After relocating to the beautiful and historic city of Charleston, South Carolina to attend the distinguished Culinary Arts program at Johnson & Wales University, his personal and professional flourishing was about to begin. He recalls, "On my first day of class, as I was at the stove sautéing some onions and peppers, fully uniformed and covered in sweat, feeling the heat and living in the moment, I knew I had arrived!" He added, "After two bachelors degrees in business, I have had my share of classroom experience but I can honestly say that I never felt as excited about school as I did at JWU; every day I would get up eager to go to class, there was always something new to learn, friendly instructors to seek guidance from and great peers to hang out with who were as passionate about the subject at hand as I was."

Maurice attended school full-time while working part-time at local restaurants in different cuisines like Northern Italian and Thai. He later went on to complete his 12-week internship at the prestigious four-star Charleston Place Hotel in the heart of downtown Charleston where he added Regional American and New American cuisine to his repertoire. While there, rotations exposed him to banquet preparations, Garde Manger, salads and cold food station at the hotel’s café, and the preparation of breads, pastries and desserts at the in-house bakeshop.  He went on to graduate at the top of his class with honors, Summa Cum Laude, with a perfect 4.0 Grade Point Average.

Upon graduation, Maurice had the opportunity to work in a remote island location in the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Panama. He became Chef de Cuisine at Islas Secas Resort, a small and very exclusive ecotourist destination. This job allowed him to explore his culinary creativity by enabling the structure of a Dégustation Menu in which guests would leave the selection of dishes to the discretion of the chef. Most of the offerings borrowed techniques and ingredients from various cuisines but there was also a decidedly tropical feel to the dishes.

After a few months as Chef de Cuisine at the launching of the InterContinental Playa Bonita Resort in Panama, Maurice soon realized that cooking for hundreds daily was not his cup of tea. "If there was something I learned while there is that when you are serving hundreds for breakfast, hundreds for lunch and hundreds for dinner, the love for the craft is lost." It was an opportune moment to pursue a better opportunity at a new restaurant to be opened in Panama City by two Italian investors from Milan. The concept was to recreate true Italian hospitality in a contemporary small setting with authentic regional Italian menu offerings. The result was Il Giardino dei Segreti at Villa Baboga, a cozy small restaurant where he would craft the entire menu with the help of Bruno and Denis while adding in some of their old world traditional family recipes. "Denis ran the front-of-the-house and had the personality for just that while Bruno worked in the kitchen with me... you couldn't ask for a better situation than seeing the owners working alongside you, hands-on, for the good of the business." The restaurant was well reviewed by several local media publications.


Not long after returning to the U.S., Maurice renewed his journey and landed what he considered a dream job. He states, "I am currently the Private Chef for a professional NFL Football player. I am in charge of all his family's nutritional and dining needs during the football season as well as the off-season." This opportunity enabled him the experience of being a Private Chef and he enjoyed being able to provide the "personal touch" that his high-profile client expects and desires. "I am truly in awe of how this newfound career in the culinary industry has unraveled." He shares, "there have been many ups and downs, but I am certainly in a better place on this journey than I ever was sitting in an office cubicle analyzing systems!!"

After nine years traveling the country and living in several cities like Charlotte, Chicago and Green Bay serving his high-profile client's needs exclusively, it was time for a change of scenery.  He decided to settle in and call Austin, Texas his new home where he now dedicates his time working as a plant-based personal chef.  After personally adopting a plant-based lifestyle several years ago, it was only natural that this newfound approach to cooking would become the focus of his work.

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