Maria Selas has been appointed corporate pastry chef for Naples’ Campagna Hospitality Group
June 1, 2023
Naples, Fla. (June 1) — Maria Selas has been appointed executive pastry chef for Naples’ Campagna Hospitality Group announced Campagna’s chef-partner, Vincenzo Betulia. Chef Maria creates the original desserts and supervises the pastry team for the company’s four restaurants in Naples, Fla.– Osteria Tulia, Bar Tulia 5th Avenue, The French, and Bar Tulia Mercato — and for Tulia Catering.
Chef Maria, born in Greece and raised in Chicago, comes to Campagna from a distinguished career and a passion for “the art and science of pastries,” she says.
The passion was awakened in France, where the Chef was studying French literature and language at the University of Paris, Sorbonne. “In Paris, I fell in love with bakeries and pastries. Even if you don’t have a sweet tooth, the window displays of the patisseries are so beautiful. In general, I was in awe of the passion for food in France,” she says.
Following her return to Chicago, she immersed herself into baking and attended the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago, where she earned a professional certificate in baking and pastry. She continued her education at Roosevelt University in Chicago, where she studied hospitality management.
With combined expertise in baking and restaurant operations, she launched a career serving as pastry chef for several Chicago-area restaurants, including the famed Gibson’s and Coco Pazzo, and as a culinary instructor at Williams Sonoma and the Illinois Institute of Art.
Most recently, she was the head baker and pastry chef for Sweet Mandy B’s, a popular dessert destination with two locations in the Chicago area. Prior to that, she served as a culinary trainer for Starbuck’s Corporation’s bakery concept, Princi, in several cities including Seattle, Chicago and New York City, before Starbuck’s shuttered the concept.
Chef Maria also pursued her own business as a private chef for several families in Miami before returning to Chicago during the pandemic to be with family. Her intention was to return to Miami.
Good fortune intervened when Chef Vincenzo Betulia spotted Chef Maria’s profile and dessert photos on social media – LinkedIn and Instagram – and reached out to her about the position of executive pastry chef for Campagna Hospitality Group, with the caveat that he was based in Naples, not Miami. He was keenly interested in her and invited her to Naples to meet the team, learn about the restaurants and become acquainted with Naples.
“I did my research,” Chef Maria says. “I was so impressed with Chef Vincenzo’s passion and that he is hands-on, creating and developing. It was a compelling opportunity to work with someone that passionate. Plus, Naples is warm, sunny and beautiful.”
In her role with Campagna, Chef Maria leads a three-person pastry team and devotes time to training and working alongside her assistants. “I am committed to giving my assistants invaluable experience and an education and I love watching their passion grow,” she says. “We come to the point where we are co-workers.”
The pastry team creates desserts for the four Campagna restaurants and for all events by Tulia Catering. “It takes a lot of planning and I also spend time training the restaurants’ culinary teams to properly execute our desserts,” Chef Maria says.
About the Desserts
Chef Maria’s original desserts are distinguished by her three guiding principles: color, flavor and texture. She prefers using fruits to achieve her standards. “I love using fruits, tropical fruits in season, berries and apples in the fall. A bonus of living in Southwest Florida is the access to so many fruits.”
A new dessert that exemplifies her guiding principles and love of fruit is Cup a Cabana, recently launched at Bar Tulia Mercato ($15). The dessert is a Verrine – a French word for a dessert served in a transparent vessel. Chef Maria chose a rocks glass and layers banana marmalade, crispy Kataifi (a shredded philo dough often used in Middle Eastern baking) baked with butter until golden, braised pineapple, passionfruit curd, and topped with coconut semifreddo, a partially frozen dessert.
For Valentine’s Day, the chef created “My Better Half,” which she built in a round chocolate tart shell with chocolate ganache, passionfruit curd and meringue. The dessert is then frozen so it can be cut in two. It is topped with fresh currant compote and flowers and served semi-soft.
Another unique dessert is Chef Maria’s “Chocolate Cherry Bomba,” a dessert built upside down. In a mold, the chef layers Gianduja moussee (a blend of chocolate with hazelnut paste), amarena cherries, and a milk chocolate Rice Krispies base. Once frozen, the dessert is popped out of its mold and topped with Nutella ganache. It is served with caramelized hazelnuts, cherry sorbet and a cherry with a stem on top.
For groups catered by Tulia Catering, Chef Maria created Club Tropicana, a mango yoghurt mousse on a coconut sponge cake, topped with raspberry glaze, roasted pineapple and fresh lychee.
“I try to create desserts that diners won’t find elsewhere” Chef Maria says, emphasizing that the desserts help provide memorable dining experiences at Campagna Hospitality Group’s restaurants and catering operation, while aiming to complement Chef Vincenzo’s food.
For more information visit CampagnaHospitalityGroup.com.