Round two with Paul Nagan, exec chef of Zink Kitchen + Bar
Biggest mistake a chef can make on the line: After working in hotels for as long as I can remember, I think the biggest mistake chefs make is not being on the line. I think hotels are where the term "office chef" was coined, quickly followed by the phrase "hotel food," which really bugs me. But I get it: I've seen a lot of bad hotel food myself, and the thing I don't get is that hotels have the same equipment and access to the same ingredients as other chefs. Actually, hotels usually have more equipment, space and labor than most independent restaurants. It's just laziness and complacency. If cooking isn't your thing, or if you're burnt out, just do something else.
Greatest accomplishment as a chef: The hotel was recently awarded the Food & Beverage Excellence Award by Hilton, which is only given to one Doubletree Hotel in the country every year, so I'm super-honored that we were chosen. It's really a testament to the entire staff at the hotel, both front- and back-of-the-house. Everyone works so hard and puts a lot of effort into what they do. They're true professionals.
What's one thing that people would be surprised to know about you? My three-year-old son, Connor, has never eaten a single thing I've ever cooked. He's an insanely picky eater. I think the entire list of foods he's consumed is still under ten, and his diet mainly consists of yogurt, fruit roll-ups, soft pretzels, french fries and Totino's party pizzas, with an occasional apple or banana. It's a little demoralizing when your own son won't eat your food.
Last meal before you die: I can't even decide what's for dinner until I wander around the grocery store for a while. My wife gets pissed because there's never any food in the house. I tell her I'm not sure what I'll be in the mood for tomorrow. Just drop me off in San Francisco, and I'll wander around until I find something.
What's in the pipeline? I work for a great company and with great people, and I've realized how important that is to my happiness and success. I'm not just saying that; I've had some jobs that sounded great, but the environment was toxic and I was miserable. This hotel has a lot of projects in the works, so I'm staying put to see where it leads me.