Born to a French-Sicilian Father and Scottish Mother, Paolo was reared on authentic multicultural cuisine. Fusion cooking as a lived experience.
“Everyone cooked. Everyone helped. It wasn’t a ‘come home and ask what’s for dinner’ house. If you wanted something to eat, you lent a hand.”
After receiving his GCSEs, Paolo headed to ‘Catering College’ as he humbly terms it. With some prying, he’ll reveal that the ‘Catering College’ is in fact ‘Le Cordon Bleu’, the world’s most respected and prestigious culinary institution. Studying between London and Paris, Paolo earned his Grand Diplôme, a combination of the institute’s Diplôme de Cuisine and their Diplôme de Patisserie.
Cheered on by his impressive education, and with a smattering of hustle, Paolo joined Raymond Blanc’s kitchen in his 2-Star Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saison. A fitting setting for an ambitious young chef. Blanc remains a culinary hero of Paolo’s.
“Raymond Blanc is entirely self-taught. He never went to college. He learned everything from his mother.”
From such auspicious beginnings in the world of high-end cuisine, Paolo has gone on to work with Albert Roux, Michelle Roux Jnr, Gary Rhodes, Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsey, Marcus Waring, Mark Sargeant, Tom Kerridge, Brian Turner, John Torode, Nick Nairn and James Martin on various projects and functions. The one chef missing is Marco Pierre White, who he hopes to work with one day still.
After several stints working for the likes of The Shelbourne Hotel, The Westbury, and l’Gueuleton on Fade Street, Paolo joined Compass in 2007 as our Executive Chef for Matheson. From Matheson he moved to the Bank of Ireland account assuming responsibility as the Executive Chef for the entire account, before becoming our Learning & Development (L&D) Chef for Compass Group Ireland.
As L&D Chef, Paolo is responsible for every aspect of our culinary team’s training, from our Chef Masterclasses, to Health & Safety, to IT training. Paolo is trusted with developing our entire chef team, across the Irish company.
In addition to nurturing the talent of our culinary team, Paolo also runs the Healthy Starts and Temple Street Foundation programmes. Founded in 2015, the Healthy Starts programme has engaged with children and parents across Dublin, helping to demystify cooking and healthy food. Since 2015, Paolo has led classes with over 3000 schoolkids and their folks, and hopes to soon bring Healthy Starts to schools in Kildare and Wicklow in the coming year.
The Healthy Starts programme has been a tremendous success, getting young people excited about cooking and healthy food. Paolo feels that whilst the clamour around the growing celebrity of chefs has been helpful in terms of educating people, it has only worked to a point.
“Often parents tell me that they saw a recipe or dish on television, but are worried that if they were to try recreate it, ‘it won’t look his does on the telly.’ I tell them it doesn’t have to! And that the chef has probably cooked that dish more than a 100 times. People are too focussed on making food pretty. Food should be delicious, first and foremost.”
The Temple Street Foundation programme is a sort of extension of Healthy Starts. Paolo runs the programme with 15 families from Temple Street Children’s Hospital guiding them through all aspects of cooking from planning meals, buying ingredients, and finally preparing food.
“It’s basically several days out for the kids from the hospital and their families. We take them out to the Aviva Stadium, where we have a space set up with safety knives and aprons, and we teach the kids the core basics of cooking. It’s a great day, and it’s good for the families.”
“The most important thing is, all the food I buy, and the equipment I use. I get it from the nearest supermarket. If I show up with my professional chef’s kit, I’ve lost them. It has to be accessible. The kids, and their parents, they have to see that anyone can cook well. You don’t need special tools.”
At home, both Paolo and his wife cook. When asked about his favourite meal, he’s quick to reveal it’s his wife’s vegetarian lasagne adopted from a Jamie Oliver recipe, then improved with Parma ham and crème fraiche. No longer vegetarian, but delicious.
“The cheese and the ham lend their salty taste to the dish, whilst the crème fraiche cools it. And substituting pasta with sliced sweet potato works perfectly.”
Last year, Paolo released his first book ‘A Journey through Northern Italy”, exploring the region’s iconic cuisine town by town. This year he plans to release another, focussing on baking, informed by his original training as a pastry chef.
As a member of the World Master Chef Society, the Culinary Guild of Chefs, the British Culinary Federation, the World Association of Chefs Societies, the Association of Pastry Chefs, the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts, the Federazione Italiana Cuochi (Federation of Italian Chefs) and Slow Food Ireland & UK, Paolo is one of the busiest and most accomplished individuals currently working within Compass, and it goes without saying that we are incredibly fortunate to be able to entrust our culinary team to him, to develop, nurture, and guide.