Deciding whether to go to college or culinary school was an easy call for Paul Shoemaker. That's because he'd spent countless hours as a child cooking in the kitchen with his grandfather something he enjoyed tremendously.

"Cooking is a passion; I tried college but it wasn't for me," he said. "But if you put me in a kitchen, I can cook. Why try to be something that you're not?"

His career in the kitchen arts has taken him to Bastide, a West Hollywood restaurant where he was recently named executive chef. Shoemaker was brought into the already established French restaurant to provide something different.

"This was a really good opportunity and I have the freedom to do what I want and to have fun," he said.

His first job was a cook at a restaurant when he was 16, but he did that just to get cash for a car. His first professional job was as line cook at Water Grille in downtown L.A. It was there that he worked his way up the rungs to the title of executive chef.

Shoemaker went from there to serving as the executive chef at several restaurants in Los Angeles, including Providence on Melrose Boulevard. He's developed a nouvelle cuisine aesthetic.

"I like to be creative and serve small portions of good food," Shoemaker said.

He goes almost every day to the farmer's market in Santa Monica to find the freshest ingredients. He grills the sellers for details about their produce, as natural
ingredients are a key component to his Bastide dishes.

"I've been doing this for almost 16 years. It's who I am and what I do I'm sure I'll keep evolving as I get older," he said.

Shoemaker lives in Santa Monica with his wife, Tina. In his spare time, he is an avid beachgoer and surfer.

-- Gabriela Gonzalez

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