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Last Update: Nov 6th, 2021
Jean-Pierre School

Chef Jean-Pierre's

1436 N Federal Hwy
Fort Lauderdale FL, 33301
954 563-2700

Details

Parking: Private Lot
Alcohol: No License
Outside Dining: No

Description

I was drawn to Tripadvisor almost totally by accident, and for kicks I figured I'd check out which restaurant was rated #1 in Fort Lauderdale.

I was surprised to see that this place is rated #1. Wait a minute, I thought, it's not even a restaurant!

Such is the ridiculousness of these online review sites; it's very easy to deceive tourists with unmoderated reviews by people who may or may not be real people.

As I scoured his web site, it was clear that this is not a school; it's a restaurant pretending to be a school. He has some trivial classes, like knife classes, where you get taught not to cut off your fingers and how to dice an onion, most likely. But just because you have classes doesn't make you a school. There's no curriculum, no accreditation. It appears that he's running his own cooking show; something like Emeril or Rachel Ray. He cooks the food in front of his audience, and then they eat it. He charges them more than a restaurant for the experience.

Search for a License

Well he serves meat and fish, so he needs level 2 inspection. Now the stupidity of Florida is that "Restaurants" are regulated by the DBPR, but "Schools" are regulated by the Department of Health (DOH). Finding things in the DOH DB is a bit easier than DBPR, because you can also search by address. There's no license at this location or for this "School" in the DOH database.

I have my own DB for the DBPR, and Chef Jean-Pierre isn't in it. So what does that mean? Could this place just be operating off the grid?

We decided to contact Chef Jean-Pierre to see what he had to say. To summarize, he claims that he was licensed as a school until 2015, when the DOH told him that because this isn't really a school, they no longer had jurisdiction and that he'd have to be licensed by the DBPR. He claims that he contacted the DBPR and they would not accept his application because they didn't have jurisdiction.

Bring Your Own Alcohol

I saw some photos where people had wine glasses, but the place has no license to sell alcohol. After reading some reviews, it appears that they allow participants to bring their own alcohol, although it doesn't say that anywhere on their web site. In fact, the cooking classes and "dinners' don't have any description at all.

Chef Jean-Pierre Class with their own Wine

Problem is, even "Bring Your Own" requires a license. If you don't sell it and just allow them to bring their own, it's called a "Bottle Club" license. Chef Jean Pierre's doesn't have one of those either.

Who is Chef Jean Pierre?

Jean-Pierre Brehier is the former owner of Left Bank Restaurant, which existed at 214 S Federal Hwy from 1976 to 2001. It was widely considered one of the better restaurants in Fort Lauderdale, although this is when places like Armadillo was considered a good restaurant. In 1995 Behier was sued by an investor claiming that he was "mismanaging" the restaurant, hiring illegals and diverting funds for personal use. In 1996 the case was settled, and Brehier declared himself the sole owner of the restaurant; when the restaurant closed in 2002 the Sun-Sentinel claimed that the restaurant was sold to Andy Fox in 1997 and that Jean-Pierre was no longer involved. But www.chefjeanpierre.com was still advertising the restaurant on his website in 2000. Other articles claim that Fox was selling restaurants at the turn of the century, Fake news ruled the day back then, so who knows the actual truth?

It does appear however that there was enough of an issue with the way the restaurant was being run that a lawsuit was filed; and some settlement was reached that made the investor quite satisfied. So it's likely that there was something to his allegations.

The Problem

The problem here is that while Chef Jean-Pierre seems to have a good idea, it doesn't appear to be legal in the State of Florida. You can't declare yourself a school just because you offer some classes, and if you're going to operate like a restaurant, you have to jump through a lot of hoops like everyone else. If everyone could just open a restaurant without a plan review, without a fire plan, without getting all of the the seating approved; then people would be opening restaurants in every nook and cranny. Heck, why not just open a bar and sell liquor you buy at Total Wine. Who needs a stinking license?

Brehier owned a restaurant in Florida for at least 20 years, so he's likely familiar with the alcoholic beverage laws. The fact that he doesn't mention anywhere on his web site that you can bring alcohol to the dinner parties implies that he knows it's not allowed. The question is, why hasn't he bothered to obtain a Bottle Club license? It's only $500; certainly it would be worth getting to increase the interest in his offerings. Even more curious; why not get a 2COP? Selling wine would be a big money-maker for the operation. There must be some reason he doesn't have one.

Just because you have an idea doesn't mean that it's viable. I'd like to set up a hot dog stand in front of Bank of America, but it's not allowed. He originally had a "school" and a coffee shop; coffee shops are regulated by the Dept of Agriculture; schools by the DOH. Over time, the "concept" developed and changed.

In 2003, he was doing Cooking Classes in Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton and Plantation. One of his big concepts were "guest chefs", where chefs from nearby restaurants would do the cooking.

In 2005, Plantation had closed and they'd introduced wine classes, for which they'd need a 2COP liquor license. Do you think he had one?

Today, there's suspiciously little info on his "classes". He still lists the same "Guest Chefs" as he did 10 years ago; but there don't seem to be any other chefs listed on any of the events. There seems to be a "dinner party" almost every night. So the cooking school has morphed into a restaurant disguised as a cooking school; sort of like the show that Emeril Lagasse and Martha Stewart use to have on TV where people pay to attend and they get to eat the food and drink wine they bring in themselves.

Conclusion

The State of Florida has a convoluted system with 3 regulatory agencies in charge of different types of Food Services. The DOH regulates schools and movie theaters, the Dept of Agriculture regulates supermarkets, bakeries and non-alcoholic beverage stores (ie Starbucks) and the DBPR regulates everything else. Here, we have someone calling themselves a school without meeting the criteria for being a school, and refusing to call themselves a restaurant.

There's no excuse for not addressing this issue for over a year. The solution here is obvious; Chef Jean-Pierre's must get licensed as a restaurant because that's the only category where what he's doing fits. There is no cooking show category, so he's going to have to jump through the hoops the way everyone else does who wants to serve food. My guess is that he's avoided doing it because whatever he's doing would have to be changed; he might lose some seats or have to make some costly modifications. I can't guess at why he hasn't gotten a bottle club license however, although I'm not sure what the penalty is for allowing people to drink in your store.

The big problem here is government. If someone reports him to the DBPR, they're going to say that they don't regulate cooking schools. The Dept of Health have already told him that he doesn't fall under their jurisdiction. So we have 2 agencies pointing at each other, refusing to do their job because they can't decide whose job it is.

Meanwhile we have a venue continuing to serve food and allow alcohol to be consumed without any oversight, inspections or regulation. Nice going, Big Government.

Comment Policy Add Comment
Keldon
Reply
I have become a Chef Jean Pierre fan via YouTube. The next time I am in Florida I want to sign up for his school/restaurant/food whatever it is because I enjoy his wit and want to eat his food.
You are why I am a Republican. You are the reason Government is Big and why it sucks!
Administrator
Reply
Not sure who the "you" is that you're referring to, but you're confusing ideology for journalism. The guy was operating outside of the laws of our community. Lawlessness is a Democrat thing (check out Chicago and NYC), so I think you have it backwards.

The place is closed so you'll have to enjoy him virtually.
Maxwell
Reply
It's not illegal at all, you don't even know what you're talking about. Restaurants in Ft Lauderdale are allowed to permit BYOB if they so desire. We do it at the Capital Grille and several other places all the time.
Administrator
Reply
It's illegal if you don't have a liquor or bottle club license, which he didn't. Does Capital Grille have a liquor license, do you think?

He was also operating a restaurant without a license. Do you think Capital Grille has a restaurant license? I mean how stupid are you?

Let's pretend I know everything about this and you know nothing, because I'm 100% sure that's the case.
Rob
Reply
Was the Chef Gay? These guys defending him reek of the low morality Wilton Manors crowd.
Administrator
Reply
The chef is clearly a favorite of the Gays. Lots of low IQ comments seemingly from teenage girls are the giveaway. People who don't have the mental capacity to understand the basics of good behavior.
Wastrel
Reply
An amusing putdown of a really good chef. Apparently everyone who has attended one of Jean-Pierre's cooking sessions has enjoyed it immensely. So what if he's found a way to slip through the regulatory lapses of Florida's arcane and Byzantine alcohol regulations.
Gary J
Reply
The rules protect everyone. If there's a fire and someone dies, not having a fire plan and inspection on file will put you in jail for a long time. As cumbersome as it is, you protect yourself as well as your patrons by "jumping through the hoops"
Administrator
Reply
but if people find it enjoyable, it should be allowed 🙄
Administrator
Reply
Do you understand how stupid you sound? Aside from breaking the law, it's completely unfair to the 3000 other businesses that jumped through the hoops to start a business. You can't compete with someone who doesn't have to follow the same rules as you do.
Elaine W
Reply
it is clear (to me anyway_) the IF administrator has a genuine dislike of Chef JP and is an arrogant know it all on top of it. You must be fun to live with....
Administrator
Reply
I've never met. him and I like or dislike him about as much as the other 1500 restaurants that I've written about. If you weren't so stupid, you'd understand that the piece was really about the dysfunction of Florida's licensing system. But you can't' educate the woodchucks, as they say.

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