Paul Basciano, Vice-President of Culinary Development at Elior North America “as far as food, it’s important we stay innovative, while never losing sight of our customer’s needs”
Discover in this interview his beginnings as a Chef and his conception of catering.
Tell us about your background, where it all started, where you’ve been, and what keeps you motivated every day?
PB I actually attended and graduated Business school before attending culinary school, all the while paying my way through, working in the food industry. Fast forward to a few stints in the NYC restaurant scene, before starting as a Chef manager and worked my way up. Determination was never one of my short-comings! From there, ten years starting before coming over to Elior two and a half years ago. Today, what keeps me motivated is pretty simple : it is my responsibility to provide the same opportunities I have received, along with the experiences that I have learned, to this team in order to grow this company and make it better than when I arrived.
What was the one defining moment in the kitchen that you knew you were meant to be a chef?
PB During my entrepreneurial phase, I knew I was missing a big-ticket piece to my future career goals: to be mentored by a big-name Chef. At the time, in NY, one of those guys was Peter Kelly. I emailed him explaining that I was a culinary school grad seeking mentorship. He accepted and I think he was beyond surprised to find an established 30 year old seeking mentorship! One day a week, I pulled morning prep duty and I couldn’t wait for that day to come. I guess you’re hooked when that’s what you look forward to each week.
As leaders, it is our job to seek passionate people, provide them the tools for success, be present to encourage and guide them, then get out of their way!
Paul Basciano, Vice-President of Culinary Development at Elior NA
Tell us about your overall culinary vison and strategy for Elior North America?
PB For me it’s all about two simple non-negotiables; people and food-in that order! I was always more a team sport person opposed to individual accomplishments, it’s probably why I was (and still am) so intrigued by the kitchen life. There is something so exciting to me about position players, all with a specific set of skills and functions, executing as one for a common goal! As leaders, it is our job to seek passionate people, provide them the tools for success, be present to encourage and guide them, then get out of their way! As far as food, it’s important we stay innovative, while never losing sight of our customer’s needs. Developing programs with a careful balance of scalable food solutions and ingredient-driven foundational technique is the focus.
Given recent changes in the industry, where do you see the business going, and what innovations do you find to be prevalent for the future?
PB 2020 has been a heck of a year, but I have to say, I think it has allowed us to be better, to think differently etc. I can tell you how proud I am for the resolve our team has shown, it really is quite amazing. I know we have become a world of technology but will never see the Chef being replaced by a robot. The human side to what we do is so important, you can’t replace passion.
What’s your advice to a young Chef in the industry, or newcomer to the organization?
1. Don’t’ wait for opportunities to come, seek them out.
2. Live your life as a student of food and food culture.
3. Never lose sight that you can ALWAYS learn something from the person standing next to you.