Hugo has been working at Paulie’s since early June of 2019, but has been part of the Paulie’s family for over a year now. Having worked at Camerata for a little over a year, Hugo was eager to expand his knowledge and experience from the wine bar to the Paulie’s counter.
Although born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (a.k.a. the cidade maravilhosa, or the marvelous city), Hugo moved to Houston at a very early age due to his father’s job at Compaq. He has a younger brother and sister living here as well, but the grandparents, uncles, and cousins are all back in Brazil. Moving to a country with absolutely no friends or family can be tough, but the Paraizo family (like most Brazilians) faced the prospect with eager optimism. Growing up in Cypress was extremely different from life in Rio, but Hugo and the family quickly acclimated themselves.
After graduating from Langham Creek High School in 2014 Hugo went on to study engineering at Texas A&M in College Station. After a little over a year he realized that engineering was not for him, so he went back home to contemplate his future. That is when he fell in love with cooking. It became an almost daily tradition to try out new dishes, and to experience different cultures through their cuisine. This was one of the things that truly captivated Hugo’s attention and passion, so he decided to enroll as a nutrition major at the University of Houston after completing his Associate’s from LoneStar College. He remains a student at UH where he balances a 40-hour work week with his part to full time school schedule. Other than cooking, Hugo is a huge fan of watching and playing soccer in his spare time. With friends, he loves to go out and try new restaurants and go to the movies.
Starting at Paulie’s has been a refreshing experience for Hugo. The high-octane environment is exhilarating to work in, and being in the heart of the Montrose food scene is a plus in and of itself.
Muhammad and his family moved to the United States in 1990 when he was five-years-old. After about six months staying with family already living in Hartford, Connecticut and Boston, they finally settled into Inner Loop Houston where he has lived ever since, including long stints in Montrose.
Growing up in diverse and multicultural Houston, especially in a first generation Pakistani-American family, majorly shaped the sort of cultural and culinary palate he began to appreciate at a young age by having to know how to live in and embody multiple cultures at once. This molded a strong belief that a wide range of experience and input only serves to heighten our sense of belonging and larger purpose in this city that has thrived on this principle. He has always noted that aside from the delicious food made with high quality ingredients and passion, Paulie’s high standing as an institute of Montrose and the Greater Houston area also stems from its down-to-earth and welcoming nature that has been fostered and cultivated over the years through attentiveness and humility and a sense of purpose. It is because of all these aspects and more that he says he takes it as a point of pride to be a staff member.
Muhammad attended middle school at Lanier, directly across the street from Paulie’s at the time the restaurant first opened, where he met fellow students and teachers who would first begin to give him his first opportunities to play live music. He went on to attend Lamar High School where his love of music grew and grew and he began to play more and more with bands of his own, as well as the jazz band where he learned a lot about the ethic of what it means to think about and play music on a deeper and more nuanced level. An active musician still, he now plays with stalwarts of the Houston music community the Free Radicals, as well as Bayou City Funk and all sorts of other combos and styles.
Always the descriptivist and rarely the prescriptivist, Muhammad has always held a deep passion for the development of cultures on the micro and macro scale. He has always found the study of deeper influences of creative endeavors in communities to be a fascinating look into their identities. A place like Paulie’s for Muhammad is the perfect example of learning from and commemorating the tradition but always thinking ahead to new paradigms. He enjoys talking to the old-school regulars about their experiences over the years with the business and the neighborhood, and finds it powerful that there is such a strong institutional memory in the Houston Italian culinary tradition. For him, it reflects the same feeling of importance that the Pakistani culture he grew up in gives to the proverbial “table” and the food and the hands that make it and enjoy it.