Paul Grybowski

Here’s another one of those natural born chefs – no fancy cooking schools, no illustrious mentors – just an overwhelming fascination with the mechanics of turning not very exciting ingredients into irresistible culinary creations.

Born in 1960 in Santa Barbara, California but transplanted to St Thomas by his parents at an extremely tender age, Paul considers himself pretty much a Thomian. Certainly most of his cooking experience has taken place here.

He started working in restaurants at the age of 14 (and you thought a paper route was ambitious!) and was actually running a restaurant kitchen by the age of 14 1/2 (El Papagayo in Tutu). After a year or so at that, his peripatetic parents whisked him off to Swaziland (South Africa), where they were going to serve a stint with US Aid (his mother has a doctorate in nursing and his father is an EMT (who was responsible for developing St Thomas’s emergency services)).

All this travel is truly enriching but some formal education is usually considered a necessity so Paul was then bundled off to family headquarters in Santa Barbara to finish high school. That chore behind him, then back to St Thomas where he joined the cooking staff at Entre Nous. After a year those itchy feet got the better of him and California beckoned again (you know how tough it is to make decisions at 22!).

Obviously the lure of St Thomas proved the most powerful since he returned for good in 1985. He spent the next 5 years at Caneel Bay and Blackbeard’s Castle before striking out on his own with Cafe Amici and a year later expanding to Palm Passage Cafe.

You would think that with 2 restaurants to run Paul would have absolutely no time for anything else but hang on to your hat for the list of extracurriculars: He is the prime mover of an acting troupe of pirates (they feign attacks on charter boats – upon request, of course); he is a masseur (was that in answer to those tired legs chef’s get?); he goes sailing or diving at every chance he gets (naturally, he’s an islander); he hosts a radio show called Chef Paul and His Metal Menu & More (clever, eh?); and his newest passion – his wife of 2 years, Michelle, and their 5 month old son, Max.

It looks like with all that to keep him busy, wanderlust will be kept at bay – luckily for us good food loving residents and those visitors fortunate enough to discover his oases on their downtown forays.