Chef Paul, previously Executive Chef at the Courtyard by Marriott at Surin Beach (since rebranded as the Novotel Phuket Surin Beach) and before that at Phuket FantaSea, says he is looking forward to the challenge of cooking healthy meals for as many as 500 students a day.
“I was looking for a change and I thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to utilise all of the nutritional knowledge I gained during my training,” said Chef Paul.
Although he was born in Bangkok, Chef Paul spent his formative years in America, his family having moved there when he was 12 years old. He attended high-school in Virginia, and after graduating, enrolled in an electrical engineering course at university.
But it was his part-time job as a kitchen hand while at high school that helped spark his true passion. He decided to change his career direction, leaving university to train at the prestigious Culinary Institute of New York.
“It was a big decision at the time to leave university, but I have never regretted it,” he said.
After completing his training, he honed his skills at several restaurants in New York where he mastered a range of cuisines including Italian, Japanese and Mexican.
But six years ago it was an offer to become the Executive Chef of the then newly opened Marriott at Surin Beach that finally drew him back to his homeland. Here in Phuket he met his future wife and they have recently started their own family with the birth of a baby girl.
As a new father, Chef Paul says he found himself thinking about how to make food that children would love to eat, but that was also healthy and nutritious. These considerations where the inspiration for the school’s new menu, which will feature a variety of six or seven fresh, well balanced main dishes every day, with an emphasis on utilising locally sourced produce.
These main dishes will be accompanied by a selection of fresh fruit and vegetables to help give students the sustained energy they need throughout the day in order to perform at their best.
“Cooking for kids can be very challenging and I think the new menu will be a big change for them. I want prepare everything fresh each day and avoid having pre-prepared ingredients in my dishes,” he said.
It’s not just about feeding the students though, Chef Paul is also hoping to foster an appreciation of the joy of cooking and pass on his extensive knowledge with after-school cooking classes. He also plans to have a livecooking station during meal times so students can watch and learn as their food is prepared each day. With this in mind, the recently expanded and renovated kitchen has been tailor made to facilitate the cooking classes and Chef Paul says he is looking forward to getting students into the kitchen and sharing his love of food.
“Food is my passion and I get the most satisfaction from my work when I see people’s faces light up with a smile when they taste my cooking,” he said.