Where are you living and working now?
I live in Los Angeles and have my own catering business, Paul's Kitchen. It has been a great year (even with the slow economy). I cater cocktail parties and private dinners as well as VIP events for City of Hope National Medical Center. I am still working on my cookbook, Simply Fabulous Food, A Taste of Celebrity. It ain't easy!
What have you been up to since FNS?
Hard to believe three years have passed since NFNS. My catering biz is thriving. I am still madly in love with Jeremy. Our dog, Gus, loves to snooze in my herb garden. My newest hobby is indoor skydiving at Ifly Hollywood. It's so fun and really addictive — think of it as jumping out of an airplane without the plane. I recently became a regular on The Sheena Metal Experience on LATalkRadio.com. We chat once a month on a range of topics, from the importance of eggs in cooking to what wine to serve with dinner to the history of chocolate. Plus, there's always a healthy dollop of my culinary adventures in LA and beyond.
What was your favorite thing about being on FNS? And your least favorite?
The friendships I made with the other contestants and crew were the greatest part of being on FNS. As far as the challenges, I enjoyed the Wedding Challenge most because it was the first big team challenge and we rocked. Least favorite part: Hello, getting eliminated!
Do you keep in touch with other finalists?
Amy and I stay in touch and get together at least twice a year.
What was the funniest/coolest/weirdest (or worst!) incident to happen behind the scenes?
Well, sharing a bathroom with six other guys was a challenge. Michael Salmon was the neatest of all of us, and there was always a race for the first shower of the day, due to the small hot water heater. Cold showers in January in NYC are no fun.
How did being on FNS affect your culinary career?
Since my catering business was well established in L.A. with many regular clients, it wasn't hugely affected by the show. I did raise my prices significantly, however, on the advice of my publicist.
What advice would you offer the next round of finalists?
Stay calm, think on your feet, be true to who you are as a cook and let it drive you through your challenges. Oh, and listen to Bob and Susie. They know this business inside and out.
When you look back, what would you have done differently?
Should have, could have and would have are a waste of time.
Do people recognize you from being on the show?
Actually, I was out to dinner last week and when we got up to leave the one guy said, "Hi Paul, my friend here is a big fan ...” (then to his friend) “... c'mon, show him your iPhone," and the guy had pulled up my pic off FoodNetwork.com. He was gushing and wanted a picture. It makes me feel good. Ah, life!
What was the greatest lesson you learned from your time on FNS?
The biggest life lesson has been to appreciate the here and now and not get caught up with what was or might have been. During the show we were all focused on the prize. Ultimately I have discovered that the friendships and the experience of being on the series are what have proven to be most rewarding.
What's your current favorite recipe or signature dish?
Here are four simple ingredients that transform into three different dishes:
1 lb. Italian Sausage cooked and crumbled
1 lb. fresh spinach sauteed in olive oil
1 cup julienned sundried tomatoes
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
For dinner, add to 1 lb. of your favorite pasta.
For brunch, add to 1 dozen eggs.
For appetizers, fill mushroom caps and bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes.
People in Haiti still need our help. Most people there have no access to clean drinking water. Here is my small request: Will you contribute for a water purification system that will provide clean water for an entire family for five years? They're only $35, and that includes the cost to ship and distribute them. A donation for these filters puts a filter in the hands of those in greatest need within days, so please help. To donate go to: www.guerrillaaid.com, where you can also see how this filter works.
Also feel free to check out my website, www.PaulsKitchen.com, for more info on me, or send me a message on Facebook.
Thanks for all the love and support over the years.