Name: Chef Brian Paolina
Restaurant: Lucy’s in Auburn, AL
Where were you born and raised?
Los Angeles, CA.
What inspired you to become a chef?
When I began working at age 15, I knew I wanted to do something that I love, something that I could do all day everyday and feel like it was more of a hobby. My love for food and cooking for myself at home was just the beginning. I got my first job in the restaurant industry at age 17. A few short years later, I made the decision to go to culinary school and pursue a career as a chef.
Where did you train to become a chef?
I started at the Art Institute of California and trained under some great chefs, including Chef Michael Vaughn and Chef Fernando Cruz.
What does your typical workday involve?
Working closely with our food suppliers to source the best seasonal ingredients, managing a small but talented and hard-working culinary team of eight, hiring and interviewing and training our team, and planning menu development for the following season while creating new recipes.
Why do you believe your current restaurant is one of the best in the state?
When we first talked about opening Lucy’s, we wanted it to be different, and we wanted to bring something to the Auburn area that has never been there. We focus first on the guests’ experience, then our hiring process because we want nothing but the best, a passionate and trainable team. We also source seasonal, local produce from the best areas around the world.
Who is the most notable person you’ve ever cooked for?
Britney Spears and Will Ferrell.
What are your favorite hobbies?
Playing hockey, shopping, watching Netflix, playing with my dog, going to any sports games, going to the movies, and eating way more than necessary.
If you won the lottery, how would you spend your winnings?
A really nice house with a slide from my bedroom window to a large pool. My friends and family that have supported me and understand the sacrifices that I have made to work and not be around them as much as needed, so they deserve to be well taken care of as well. And I would open a second restaurant in Los Angeles.
What’s your favorite seafood dish to serve up for yourself and your family?
I enjoy cooking Cobia when it’s in season. Seared in a cast iron pan and served with celery root purée, fried Brussel’s sprouts, lemon shallot beurre blanc, and topped with a bacon gremolata.
What makes Alabama Gulf Seafood special?
The Gulf of Mexico has over 4,500 species of seafood, and Alabama alone has around 150, and over 100 species are considered globally rare. The warm water and high salinity level give our Gulf seafood a distinct sweet, earthier flavor not found anywhere else.