Carl Paparone, head chef at Zacry’s
Born and bred Cornish, half Italian Carl has always been interested in food. Starting work as a dishwasher Carl has worked his way through the ranks and is now Head Chef at Watergate Bay’s new restaurant, Zacry’s.
We caught up with Carl to see how he is finding life in a brand new kitchen.
How long have you worked at Watergate Bay Hotel?
I’ve been at Watergate Bay Hotel for around 18 months, having originally taken the position of Head Chef of the former Dining Room. I’m now Head Chef of Zacry’s and can’t wait to get stuck in.
Have you always worked in kitchens?
Originally I wanted to become a professional footballer, but that was never going to happen. I’ve always had an interest in food, coming from an Italian family, food was at the heart of our day. My first job was at The Penventon Park Hotel as a kitchen porter and there I found my interest in becoming a chef and they promoted me to commi chef. I’ve worked my way up the ranks and have worked in restaurants such as Greenbank Hotel, Alverton Manor, Fifteen Cornwall, Rick Steins Seafood Restaurant, Hotel Tresanton and now Watergate Bay.
What is the day to day life of a head chef like?
Varied. I have to constantly make sure stock levels are maintained, fridges are clean, KPs (kitchen porters) are on top of their work load, chefs are briefed, menus are planned and written, food is prepped and consistence remains high.
There is a lot of forward planning in my role too. For example, if we were going to serve a meat terrine on the menu we’d have to make sure it was prepared at least three days before to ensure the flavour was there.
I also deal with suppliers on a daily basis. We buy our fish the same morning it’s caught, so I check what’s on the menu for that evening, estimate how many portions of fish we’ll sell and buy it straight from the market. Usually the supplier rings at 11am and the fish is on the plate and being served by dinner.
How many chefs work in your kitchen?
At the moment I manage a team of around 8 but we’re looking to increase that to 10 now that Zacry’s is open. Our team will have to be very confident as the kitchen is now open plan and customers can watch us cook and ask us questions.
Are you excited about the opening of Zacry’s?
Of course! I’m especially looking forward to the open kitchen; it’s going to be nice to be a part of the restaurant as opposed to being behind the scenes. I think it’ll give Zacry’s a great atmosphere having guests and chefs so closely linked.
However, it’s almost like starting a new job. I’ll have new members on my team, a new menu and a new kitchen; everyone will look to me if they have a problem and I’ve got to be on top of everything to make sure I’ve got the answer. It’s unnerving but very exciting.
What’s your favourite dish on the Zacry’s menu?
I love the Zacry’s menu, can I say all of it is my favourite? [Nope] Ok, for starter I’d chose, ZF rabbit with celeriac and apple slaw. For main it’s a toss-up between lamb chump and pork loin chop…I think I’d pick the pork. And we’ve just added a new dessert, pistachio and olive oil cake with poached plums and vanilla mascarpone.
What is your favourite meal to cook at home?
That’s tricky. I really like simple food, not too many ingredients, not too many flavours. I think as long as the produce is good then the meal will be excellent.
Try Carl’s favourite restaurant dish recipe at home – wild sea bass with brown shrimp, new potatoes, spinach and tomato.
Does your daughter like your cooking?
Thankfully yes. She is a big fan of both my mine and my wife’s cooking and luckily isn’t keen on fast food at all.