I have my childhood neighbor to thank for getting me started on my culinary journey. Raised by a single father, my childhood meals were standard 1970s fare and rarely involved fresh-baked treats and homemade pasta. But at every chance I could, I invited myself two doors down to lend my hand at true home cooking and was fascinated by the worldly spreads we created.
Since then, it has always been about creation through cooking and experiencing food. As a young woman, the Sagittarian urge to travel led to many exciting journeys filled with food discoveries. I immersed myself in cultures through markets, sharing family tables, farming, visiting caves and experimenting with street food. I began to get a glimpse into how food shapes relationships and sustains communities.
After college, one such journey led me to pick up my life in NY and relocate with my closest friend to Seattle just as the city was embracing a food revolution. I was fortunate to land a position in an underprivileged public school where I spearheaded a program that brought local area prominent chefs and grade schoolers together. It was that experience that really opened my eyes to how food can bring people together. I knew then that I had found my passion.
I returned to NYC to attend culinary school. In the years that followed, I experienced the gamut of chef opportunities: restaurants, food styling, private chef gigs, catering and event planning. As a private chef in St. Tropez one summer, I met my husband, Mickael Paradis, a French-trained butcher. Together, we opened up Paradis. Now in its 10th year, we have stayed true to our original mission: to serve seasonally driven and approachable food.
Paradis remains one of my greatest achievements, second only to being a mother to our twins Hugo and Marion. Paradis—the French word for paradise—is a name that truly suits our cafe and its mission. I am so grateful to be doing what I love, bringing joy to hundreds of customers daily and working side by side with talented and dedicated staff.