When did you know you wanted to be a chef?
As corny as it sounds, I pretty distinctly remember standing in the kitchen with my mom when I was like barely able to see up to the counter just tugging on her apron strings and wanting to know what was going on. It was a really, really big part of my life growing up; we very rarely went out to eat. And I was like "This is it," and I was 14. I'm lucky in life to have figured out what I like. This is my passion. I'm fortunate to do my passion every single day of my life.
Once you figured that out, where do you go from there?
I was fortunate enough that my high school offered a culinary arts program--it was one of the only ones in Michigan, where I grew up--so I did that my junior and senior year. That was just a phenomenal springboard to college and jobs and I started off as a dishwasher when I was 14. Then I did an apprenticeship program and that just really sort of went well for me. I went to school one day a week and it was all just hands on. My chef at my restaurant was in direct contact with the chefs at school so it was hand in hand: school and the job, 50/50. That was definitely my springboard.
Read on after the jump...
How did you end up here in Phoenix?
Sort of random story, but I was on the verge of turning 30 and Michigan was going through the recession maybe four years prior to everyone else in the country and I saw the writing on the wall...I sort of had an epiphany and said, "Five years down the road, I'll be so miserable as a person." Professionally and personally I just needed change. So I decided to sell all of my stuff, broke up with my girlfriend at the time and I went to Europe for three months by myself like a month after my thirtieth birthday. Absolute best thing I've ever done. And I flew back from France on Friday to Detroit, and drove down here on Monday.
Did you know you wanted to come to Phoenix?
My sister had just bought a home down here and there was a decent amount of work to be done on the house so I came down to help. I had like two laundry baskets of clothes cause I really didn't know what I was going to do, where ever the wind took me basically. I was literally here like, four days and I knew I was staying. I came out in January it and 65 and sunny, and in Michigan there's like 10 feet of snow. And that's really it. This January it will be four years for me down here.
What drew you to LGO?
For me, it's sort of the uniqueness and the fun, funky and eccentric clientele. I don't live far from here so typically Saturday and Sunday morning, if I had the morning off I'd just get a cup of coffee and read the paper. Maybe grab something to eat and just sit over here for a couple hours, to me that's really relaxing and good for me. Not that this place is quiet and soothing, but in a weird way to me it kind of was. LGO Hospitality as a whole, to me it's a very, very appealing company because its not cookie cutter corporate and the owner and the partners have no desire to go that way. Fortunately everything Bob touches goes to gold; he's a visionary. And it's very unique to have and owner that was also a chef for like 35-40 years. It's sort of gratifying to be able to reach out and make an impact with one phone call.
Check back tomorrow for the rest of Paul's story.