I recently sat down with “Hell’s Kitchen” reality show winner Chef Paul Niedermann
to talk cooking and Delray Beach.
What was it like being on the show?
Imagine trying to do your job with a bunch of other people who are equally talented and someone you have idolized your entire life is on the side line judging your every move. Now imagine 17 cameras pointed at you and a million people watching from their homes. The pressure was intense and failure was something that I would not look at. Having Gordon Ramsey on set was intense enough, but when you throw everything I mentioned into the mix, you now have a recipe for great T.V. but some very stressed out chefs. The panic and stress you see on T.V. are very real but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Making it on the show was an accomplishment on its own but winning was one of the pinnacles of my career. Of course you get some money and an awesome job after you win but the experiences proceeding were the highlights. Being able to say I’ve cooked for celebrities like Tyra Banks, Daniel McBride, Hillary Duff, Rob Dyrdek, my idol Gordon Ramsey and many others I can’t think of off the top of my head, made the whole experience even more indescribable. I’m not sure I would enter another cooking competition but I’m very happy I did the show and equally as grateful for where it has taken me.
How did you end up in Delray Beach?
Well I’m originally from Florida so moving back was not a hard decision. After you win “Hell’s Kitchen,” Gordon Ramsey sets you up with an amazing job working for the BLT Group and that job took me everywhere from Manhattan to Miami, from Los Angeles to The Hamptons and everywhere in between. It was awesome going from place to place and running all these amazing restaurants but after a few years I decided I wanted to be back in Florida full time and closer to friends and family. Making the decision to leave BLT wasn’t the easiest but I wanted to plant roots close to where I was raised. I’m now with SALT7, which is a modern American restaurant in Delray Beach, and I intend to bring the same passion and drive that allowed me to win “Hell’s Kitchen” to their kitchen.
What do you think of the restaurant scene in Delray Beach?
Delray has some awesome restaurants with so much variety. The chefs I’ve met are nothing but top notch and the dishes they pump out are nothing short of amazing. It’s really cool to see a town that has grown so much in the past few years continue to evolve and flourish. Food is like a universal language, you cook for people and in return it makes them happy. In Delray you have so many ways to keep people happy, from sushi to prime steaks and everything in-between, the chefs here are really making their mark in the culinary world.
What do you do when you’re not cooking?
When I’m not at work I really enjoy taking advantage of one of Florida’s biggest past times, fishing. It allows me to unwind and just forget the stress of working in a kitchen. Besides that I’m really big into sourcing the finest local ingredients from unexpected places.
Currently I’m with SALT7 and I know we want to expand into larger markets like Fort Lauderdale and Miami so overseeing those kitchens are something I’m very much looking forward to. As for right now, I really want to crank out some awesome dishes and continue to help put Delray Beach and SALT7 on the map as a culinary destination.
What’s your favorite food?
Sunday Sauce is my favorite and was something that I grew up with. Mom would cook this essentially Bolognese sauce with pasta for hours and after the day was done, friends and family would come over for a huge meal.