Gerard Fioravanti likely wouldn’t believe his own story either. But then again, the best stories are often told at the intersection of fact and fiction.
The crazy thing is that everything you read about him and his experience here is true.
His colorful tale began learning to cook and bake at his mother’s side. His passion was undeniable and it led him to the French Culinary Institute where he fell in love with all things pastry.
From there, he apprenticed with some of the most illustrious chefs in NYC (Jacques Pepin, Daniel Boulud, Geoffrey Zakarian) before leaving the rush and gridlock behind to settle in Huntington.
At his Huntington bakery Fiorello Dolce, he solidified his presence over the past 20 years as the preeminent European-style patisserie with a decidedly French accent here on Long Island. Now, with some help from his “friends” (more on that later), he has written “The Baker’s Ghost,” a new work of fiction that seamlessly blends enticing recipes with eerie ghost stories and intriguing mysteries.
The Baker’s Ghost
So how did he make the leap from puff pastry to publishing? To hear Fioravanti explain it, he was inspired, perhaps strongly encouraged, to do so at the urging of friends.
Those friends were the no-longer-living residents of his bakery kitchen. Now, before you start scrolling away from here, know that Fioravanti was highly dubious as well. Until, he hired several skilled mediums and, he embarrassingly admits, “ghost hunters” to come and take a read of the premises. After installing infrared cameras and motion detectors, there was no doubt that Fioravanti and his chefs definitely had paranormal company in the kitchen.
Fioravanti said a ghostly crew has since been identified as roughly six different people. There’s a man named Eddie who was stabbed in the 1980s, a soldier who died nearby in the Revolutionary War, two Prohibition Era rum runners, and two sisters who died of illness in the Civil War.
Are they friendly ghosts you may ask? For the most part yes, albeit mischievous and determined to make their presence known. They like to cause havoc by moving rolling racks out of the walk-in refrigerator, sliding knives across tabletops, moving spatulas, and slamming oven doors. Off hours, they like to taunt the camera security systems and Fioravanti has hundreds of videos of orbs and oddities flying about.
He says he felt inclined to write the mystery contained in “The Baker’s Ghost,” and that it very much flowed through him, not of his own volition. Now that the book has been published and is widely available, Fioravanti says everyone has settled down. ”I think they wanted to be heard, and they told their story through me, and now the energy is far calmer.”
Proof is in the pudding
Take a deep breath, I know this is a lot to take in.
I was hesitant to believe as well, but after spending a few hours with Fioravanti at Fiorello Dolce and listening to him recount his experiences and watching his CCTV videos I was convinced that there was more going on than just proofing of dough and icing cakes (although his hazelnut praline meringue mousse cake must be tasted to be believed).
If believing in ghosts isn’t your thing, but if you do believe in the beauty of a perfect croissant, a superlative bacon and gruyere quiche or the absolute most swoon-worthy creme brulee outside of Paris, I would advise you to head straight to Huntington.
The artistry that comes out of Chef Fioravantii’s kitchen speaks to his skill and mastery of puff pastry and the subtlety of hand in crafting European pastry and cakes that balance sweet and savory elements. Gerard understands the importance, nay the necessity, of high-fat content butter and the exacting standards of measurement and proofing.