Food is at the heart of so many cultures. It is an expression of love and experience, passed down from generation to generation. As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month September 15 through October 15, we celebrate the cultures and identities of our team members and how they express them to our Sunrise community through their food.
Paul is our Dining Services Coordinator at Sunrise of Staten Island where he creates memories through food for his residents and their families. Paul whose family is from Saint Croix one of the U.S. Virgin Islands in the Caribbean fell in love with cooking early. From the age of 3, he can remember learning the ins and outs of the kitchen from his mother. An eager student, Paul couldn’t learn fast enough and soon learned that the kitchen isn’t a playground.
“I got two burn marks on my stomach from getting too close to the stove when I was five,” he remembers. “I just wanted to learn how to make rice!”
Paul developed a love for food early but his path to the food industry wasn’t direct. In fact, in his early 20’s he was studying to become an air traffic controller. One night, he was flipped through the channels after a long day of studying and a culinary commercial came on.
“A light bulb went on and I decided to enroll in culinary school the next day.”
Paul graduated from the New York Restaurant School in New York City and landed a series of top jobs at high-profile restaurants across the state including House of Blues and Portofino Bay at Universal Studios. He worked for world-renowned chefs like Wolfgang Puck and Paul Bocuse and has fed countless celebrities and athletes throughout his career. He is even a Kosher chef, which has allowed him to travel all over to prepare his food.
However, Paul says that his most meaningful work has been in senior living. He loves the connections he can build with his residents and helping them to make new memories through food. He also loves the opportunity to share his culture with his residents and with the greater Sunrise community. In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, Paul wanted to share his recipe for Octopus Escabeche, a delicious dish that combines Spanish and Caribbean influences into a flavor-packed dish featuring octopus marinated in a tangy vinegar sauce.
“I want to thank you for allowing me to show case my skills and being part of the Hispanic Heritage Month celebration!”
Octopus Escabeche with Yuca in a Sofrito Sauce.
2 Octopus Legs
1 Red or Spanish Onion (cut 1/4 inch thick)
1 Red bell pepper (cut 1/4 inch thick)
1 Green bell pepper (cut 1/4 inch thick)
½ cup Olive Oil
1/8 cup malt or apple cider vinegar
1 Yuca (Cassava) (cut into small pieces)
¼ tsp Fresh Thyme (chopped)
¼ tsp Fresh Cilantro (chopped)
3 cloves Fresh garlic (sliced thin)
1 tbsp Sofrito
1 Spanish Onion
1 Green bell pepper
½ bunch parsley
½ bunch cilantro
2 garlic cloves
½ bunch scallions
Peel and boil Yuca in salt water, in the meantime on high heat add 1 tbsp olive oil and sauté octopus’ legs for 4 minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside. In same pan add 1 tbsp olive oil and add garlic sauté for 2 minutes and add onions, bell peppers, fresh herbs and sauté until vegetables are translucent. Approximately 5-7 minutes. Turn the fire off and add your octopus into the pan and let sit for 5 min. Add vinegar and the rest of the olive oil to the pan and mix with a spatula. Garnish with cilantro.