Job Title: Corporate Chef and Managing Partner, Century Hospitality Group
Why He’s Top 40: He’s an award-winning chef who employs and mentors many of Edmonton’s next generation of culinary visionaries – and promotes Edmonton’s culinary scene abroad.
Guilty Pleasure: “If it’s food, it’s gotta be poutine. As a Quebecer, it’s certainly my go-to when I’m under the weather after a night of too much fun.”
Paul Shufelt didn’t always want to be a chef. As a young man growing up southeast of Montreal, Shufelt studied engineering at Dawson College. But every weekend and every summer, Shufelt traveled back to his home neighbourhood to work as a dishwasher at a local restaurant. “I always kept coming back to the kitchen,” says Shufelt. “I just loved the intensity and the pressure of a busy dinner service.”
To keep the pressure on, Shufelt abandoned what would inevitably be four more years in university to dive head-first into the culinary arts. Shufelt traveled to Banff where he apprenticed under chef Thomas Neukom at the Buffalo Mountain Lodge while also completing the three-year culinary apprenticeship program at NAIT.
Upon graduation, Swiss-born Neukom encouraged Shufelt to travel to Switzerland to study further. “That’s where I felt all those basics that I learned in school were really pounded in to me,” says Shufelt. “At the time it seemed like a big risk, but now I feel like the risk has paid off.”
Paid off it has. Last October, the chef won gold at the Edmonton 2013 Gold Metal Plates competition, and represented Edmonton in the Canadian Culinary Championships in February. He also writes a food column for the Edmonton Sun and contributes to the Food Network blog.
As the corporate chef and managing partner of the Century Hospitality Group, Shufelt is the top chef of his particular culinary arena. The company currently employs more than 500 employees and nearly 100 cooks – cooks who look to him for the dishes, menus and expertise needed for each of the hospitality group’s eight concept restaurants.
“My conversations now are about how to better develop the leaders under me. It’s a balance now, between the business and the role as a chef,” says Shufelt. “Even now, I’m evolving. I’m less excited to just create a new menu for a new season; I am more excited for the opportunity to create a new restaurant, as well.”