Category Archives: Food

Paulie’s Counter Culture – Jenna Cash

As promised, I am releasing a “resume” of each of my 10 Baristas at Paulie’s, one per week. We have a talented bunch behind our counter, I’d like to share their stories with you all.


Jenna is a woman of many talents, and never afraid to get her hands dirty…The rumor is, Jenna is kin to Johnny Cash.


Jenna moved to Houston about two years ago from Brooklyn, New York with two Rubbermaid containers and a few guitars.  She was here for barely a week before answering a job ad and interviewing with Paul.  Paulie’s was her first real introduction to Houston, Texas.  She liked it so much she decided to stick around.

Jenna grew up in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois, a small town three hours south of Chicago.  Jenna still grew up in the kitchen.  Her best friend’s father owned a small restaurant and catering business in her hometown, and the two young ladies started slinging hash browns at 6AM on weekends while helping with catering events.  In high school Jenna was hired at Panera Bread as a dishwasher.  After a year, and at 17, she became a manager.  She stayed with the company for 2 more years, and assisted in opening five additional locations.  While in New York, she started working at a small coffee shop called Gregory’s Coffee.  Although she had worked with coffee before, this was her first introduction to Specialty Coffee.  Just before leaving Brooklyn, she was managing a restaurant and bar in the Flat Iron District of Manhattan.

Restaurants make up a lot of Jenna’s history and back-story, but that only scratches the surface.  She is a trained massage therapist and worked as an LMT in the state of Illinois for nearly 2 years.  She was the youngest therapist with the fastest growing clientele in her area.  She received her Bachelor’s degree in Entertainment Business in 2010, while residing in Orlando, Florida.  After finishing college, she moved to New York City and interned with well-known photographer, Ron Rinaldi.

Jenna loves music.  Her childhood home was filled with it.  She remembers being little and singing by the piano with her mother.  She was competing in vocal competitions statewide at a young age.  In school she played the trumpet in jazz bands, concert bands, and marching bands.  If it had something to do with music, Jenna was probably there.  In her teenage years, she picked up the guitar and started writing her own music.  She still does.  When she isn’t busy working or playing guitar, Jenna enjoys baking, especially pies.

Jenna lives in Spring, Texas with her boyfriend. They run Kritikos Recording Studio.  Jenna is often running to meetings with artists, grabbing food for grungy recording bands, and breaking down contracts and agreements.  KRS is currently in the process of building a brand new recording studio to accommodate the growing business.



Paulie’s Counter Culture – Kevin Mathis

As promised, I am releasing a “resume” of each of my 10 Baristas at Paulie’s, one per week. We have a talented bunch behind our counter, I’d like to share their stories with you all.

This weeks’s subject is one of our most coffee focused baristas, and a bad-ass drummer…



Kevin started with Paulie’s in the Summer of 2012. He is a native Houstonian, born and raised in Cypress. Kevin was home-educated his whole life, graduating in 2009. In his high school years, he acquired his first job at Barnes and Noble Café where he cut his teeth in the service industry. There came his first taste of working behind the counter, and the craft of coffee. He began studying the art of coffee and fell in love with Houston specialty coffee shops. He was fascinated with the idea that coffee could be more than a hot, bitter, black beverage. Coffee can actually be prepared in a way that showcases the nuances and complexity of the beverage.

After high school, Kevin began pursuing a nursing degree at UT Austin. There he began working at Caffe Medici on Guadalupe, across from UT campus. Here he received his first in-depth training in preparing espresso. Kevin slung lattes for little over a year for the caffeine –crazed students of UT. Medici was a high volume shop doing hundreds of covers a day and it put his new skills to the test.

In the spring of 2012, Kevin moved back to his hometown. While in Houston, Kevin was introduced to Paulie’s through Greenway Coffee. Paulie’s gave Kevin the opportunity to continue to hone his barista skills while learning the ins-and-outs of food service. Kevin also took a second job at Blacksmith, and then Greenway Coffee to dial in his coffee skills. Working solely at Paulie’s now, Kevin greatly values everything learned through Blacksmith and Greenway.

When Kevin is not behind the counter he enjoys watching baseball, playing (and watching) golf and playing music. A drummer for eight years, he loves listening to and experiencing different genres of music. From classic country, 60’s psychedelic, garage, jazz, heavy-metal, and hip-hop. He also enjoys cooking and constantly trying new recipes at the house. He’s a beer-nerd, a bocce player, amateur carpenter and a jack-of-all-trades; a renaissance man if you will.

Paulie’s Counter Culture – Jon Revere

As promised, I am releasing a “resume” of each of my 10 Baristas at Paulie’s, one per week. We have a talented bunch behind our counter, I’d like to share their stories with you all.


The third specimen is one of the US Military, which has instilled discipline and loyalty, Jon Revere.



Jon has been a part of the Paulies crew since August of 2013. He enjoys interacting with others and offers a sincere, friendly demeanor across the counter. Jon was born in Houston during the early 80s and grew up in Cypress. He comes from a family of four whom have been both influential and supportive of him through his endeavors.

Following high school, Jon began attending Sam Houston State University to further his education.  Debts grew and income became overshadowed which caused Jon to put education on hold to see a new perspective. In 2008, he signed on with the U.S. Army as a field artilleryman. Jon served three years in active service, and one of those years was spent in Afghanistan. He appreciates his time that was spent in service but is grateful it is concluded. In 2011, Jon was honorably discharged from active service and returned to his studies. In the summer of 2013, Jon obtained a BA in History from Sam Houston State University.

Jon brings forth a few experiences with coffee. While in Huntsville, Jon worked as a barista at a small coffee shop, which has since closed, but gave him an introduction to an espresso machine. While in active service, Jon experienced the existence of bad coffee, but noticed his peers seemed to drink it anyway.

During his spare time, Jon enjoys music. He particularly enjoys classic rock, rock, and classical. He also enjoys relaxing with a pleasant meal and a nice glass of wine. When the weather is bright, Jon can be seen on the golf course trying in earnest to improve his game. With friends he is known to try different restaurants, go to the movies, or just stay in and open a board game. Jon’s favorite hobby is going out to a country range and shoot sporting clays.


Workation: A necessary component to success.

Working any position in the Food and Beverage Industry can be exhausting.  The everyday operational tasks can become challenging in the high-traffic environment.  Occasionally, it is necessary to step away from your job to remind yourself why you are working in this industry in the first place.  The best option for your intended escape without feeling guilty is something called a workation (work + vacation).

I encourage everyone to do this; second to Staging, it is a necessary component to succeeding and growing in our field.  A workation for you should involve traveling and eating.  When I walk into a restaurant, I notice everything.  I notice what flatware and serving pieces are used, I notice the temperature of the room, I notice if there are ceiling fans, are they on or off.  I notice the appearance and demeanor of the servers, I notice the restaurant layout, is it efficient or a circus, I notice the coffee service.  I take away MUCH more from each establishment than just the food.  Traveling allows me to attain that new breath of fresh air from other restaurants. This fresh air gives me continued education on how other restaurants may operate, a different network of fresh faces that share similar vision, and refreshed inspiration to continue bettering myself.   My overdue workation this year was to one of nation’s oldest cities also known as the “city of brotherly love”: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


The main reason I chose Philadelphia was Vetri.  Vetri has been proclaimed “possibly the Best Italian Restaurant on the east coast” by Chef Mario Batali .  Alan Richman, winner of 14 Journalism James Beard Awards has noted Vetri as “probably the Best Italian Restaurant in America”.  With all this in mind, I thought Vetri would be the perfect place for me to experience and to continue to learn as a chef and take on new ideas in the overall dining experience.  Continued education for our industry is very important; you have to go out and explore what other people are doing in other parts of the world.  This is how you can set yourself apart from other restaurateurs as well as bring in new ideas to your community.  Experiencing the best of the best allows you to set or realign standards for your business.  The dinner at Vetri was as expected: nothing short of extraordinary. The courses were planned out thoughtfully, the plating was beautiful, the atmosphere was cozy, the service was impeccable, and of course the food was remarkable.


Vetri January 2014 Menu

Di pesce (fish)

Osso di mammut lanoso

Diver scallop and persimmon crudo

Bocconcini de baccala

Pappardelle with cockles and tardivo

Whole fish ‘secondo il mercato’

Di Verdure (vegetable)

Sweet onion crepe with truffle fondue

Ricotta ravioli with wild pecan

Spinach gnocchi wth brown butter

Almond tortellini with truffle sauce

Lasagna all giudia

Di terra (from the earth)

Tortellini pie

Smoked Canada goose stuffed endive


Chestnut fettucine with wild boar ragu

Capretto with stone milled polenta

Milk braised lamb with mint

Dolce (dessert)

Chocolate polenta soufflé

Pistachio flan with milk chocolate gelato


Bunet with kiwi

Piccolo pasticceria

Aside from Vetri, the Italian Market in Philadelphia made me feel like a kid in a candy shop. The outdoor market has fresh produce as well as butcher shops and specialty Italian items available every day of the week rain or shine.  To be able to sample rare types of olive oils, vinegars, cheeses, meats, etc. and have all these resources at your fingertips for your restaurant would be a luxury to me but not to the average Philadelphia restaurateur.

I cannot write in depth about every restaurant experience I had in Philadelphia, there’s too many and I would sure lose your attention.  The two restaurants that I had more of an intimate connection with was Vetri and Tequilas.  Having talked to my bar friends in Houston, I reached out to the owner of Tequilas.  I cannot stress how important networking is in our industry.  It builds a community where we can share each other’s innovations and experiences to better our industry. Learning from Vetri’s chef de cuisine, Adam Leonti, that his Panettone took five years to perfect brings me joy to know that someone else share’s my vision that perfection is attainable through perseverance, dedication, and lots of trial and error.  Meeting David Suro, owner of Tequilas was a humbling experience. He walked right up to me at the bar, he noticed someone ordered Del Maguey Chichicapa mezcal, so he knew it had to be me.  I also realized he makes Siembra Azul Tequila that I regularly find at high-end bars in Houston.  His recommendations of tequila, mezcal, and food that night were unforgettable.  I remember delicious tripe and grasshoppers!

Felipe Riccio accompanied me to Vetri.  Felipe works for us at Camerata expanding his wine knowledge, but he is a chef first.  Some past cooking experiences in Houston include Reef and Pass & Provisions.  His inspiration from Vetri and the Italian market for his upcoming private dinner was noticed by his guests.  Like Vetri, he incorporated quality ingredients with minimal alterations to make sure each component  kept its original essence.  He made sure his service was attentive but not intrusive.  He stressed beauty of plateware which he really noticed at Vetri and how that element added value to each dish.  That single dinner at Vetri inspired a dish at his future private dinner:

Roasted Ceci Pappardelle/ Fregola Sarda/Burro di Buffala/ Parmesan-cured Yolk


As I said earlier, there were too many amazing restaurants, bars, coffee shops I visited in Philadelphia and all of them are worth mentioning.  Follow them on Twitter through (Elixer coffee, Han Dynasty, Yard’s Brewery, Dim Sum Garden, The Ranstead Room, Franklin Mortgage and Co.)  My advice is to take a workation and explore them yourself.  A workation is the perfect combo of allowing you to further enjoy your profession, while actually still working…

Paul FEEDS 2.0


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Houston, TX –

People in my close circle know about a website I have been working on for almost two years now,  I have had an amateur version live recently, then decided it was time to seek a professional designer and programmer, which I found in San Francisco,  Now I am ready to launch PaulFEEDS 2.0.  The concept was incubated from my want of Food & Beverage professionals recognizing other Food and Beverage professionals.

I believe we need food writers and critics, no matter if we disagree on opinions.  They do make us better, whether consciously or subconsciously.  There are comments that stick with us, linger around, sometimes they may not even be pertinent, but they stick.  F&B professionals are putting themselves out there.  We can be vulnerable as our heart and soul lie on a plate, or our experienced and educated palate fill the glass.  We can be sensitive, its true.

On the other hand, there are too many “Foodie” sites going the wrong direction.  One that comes to mind is Yelp.  Yelp is a public forum that allows anyone with internet access to post comments AND photos of any F&B establishment on the site.  Even if the comments are false and the food pictures are NOT from the establishment, Yelp has refused to remove false information in the past.  This now becomes public information to others who have never visited but already have negative thoughts in their head, false or not!  Its not really the users’ fault, they don’t have a better influence.

In my hopes, will fill that void.  The void of recognition of professionals, by professionals.  I will NOT review restaurants, food or beverage.  I WILL recognize industry professionals and establishments for their skills, knowledge, progression, community relations, leadership or just overall bad-ass-ness.  On top of that, the site has a growing database of Twitter handles of those professionals.  Twitter is so important in our industry.  By sharing these Twitter handles, hopefully they will be “followed” more, drawing the attention to these individuals and eateries, and away from cynical public forums.  The database is composed of Chefs, Bartenders, Sommeliers, Restaurateurs, Baristas, Purveyors, Writers, Mobile Food and more.  The database is global, and I hope to expand to include more over-seas prospects soon.  At the moment it is very U.S. heavy.  As I travel, or as word of mouth travels to me, it will grow.  I also have “Get Featured” option where you can share with me your idea of prospects to include.  After I do my research, I may or may not include those.  I HIGHLY encourage as much help as possible.  I cannot be everywhere, all the time.  Share with me those who need to be shared.  If I do choose your submission to be included, your name will appear on the Contributors page!

The site does not generate income at this time, and was built on a personal budget.  As the site grows I will seek advertisers to help with expenses.  My advertisers will be just as important as my subjects.  I would like to include industry equipment, vineyards, spirits, purveyors, etc, whom I believe in.  I am currently exploiting and as guinea pig advertisers.  They have been gracious enough to let me include them as my first “test” advertisers.  Honestly, I couldn’t have picked any better two.

The name, PaulFEEDS was not my first choice.  I do not like naming things after myself.  I originally wanted the domain, but it is currently parked with an extremely high price.  So I gave that site owner the finger and moved on.  After very little word play, I chose Paulfeeds.  It seems to pair well with my other day job,, which I also did not name after myself.

I will not spend money marketing the site.  It will solely depend on word of mouth and social media.  So please spread the word and share with me your ideas on the “Get Featured” page!

Thank you,

Paul Petronella

It. Is. All. Happening. In. Houston.

I have seen a great deal in my short life.  Included in that is the transformation of the Houston restaurant scene.  It’s like watching a child transform into adulthood.  Gaining confidence to leave the nest and fly an original path.  Realizing stepping on others will not get you to the top, instead ensuring you fall through the cracks.  Appreciating how it feels to lend a hand.  Making decisions that are not only good for yourself but the people around you.  Maturity at its best.

I come from a restaurant family, so I’ve spent some time in restaurants as a kid.  I slalomed through line cooks during dinner rush.  I passed out at the bar with my Cherry Coke during closing.  I slept in the office waiting to go home.  I made bow and arrows with rubber bands, straws and cocktail swords.  I learned that I could hide in a walk-in.  I learned how to “fry” ice cream.  I learned Spanish slang.  And I learned that a restaurant becomes a family.  You see so much of each other, they become part of your life.  Some come and go, and that can be sad.  But then you meet others that have worked at competing restaurants.  And so the restaurant community is built.

The difference between now and then is the sense of community support.  Community doesn’t necessarily mean support is present.  Our restaurant scene was quite competitive back in the day.  As most restaurant communities are, I’m not knocking our retro scene.  It is a highly volatile industry which can breed fierce competition.  But I feel like we haven’t quite matured until recently.  We are not stepping on each other, we are going out of our way to help our community succeed.  All the while still spreading our wings and flying our own paths.

I have best friends from high school and college, and then I have industry friends.  I tell you what, my industry friends share something that I could never have with my non-industry friends.  We get each other.  There is an unspoken bond.

And now It seems all my industry friends are coming into their own and making their dreams realities.  I can’t describe how excited I get when I walk into a restaurant space that is weeks from opening.  The space that was, just months prior, gutted to the bare concrete and support posts is about to change lives.  The cooks, the bartenders, the servers are being employed by this new dream and about to build their own life experiences.  The experiences that could lead them to their own entrepreneurial aspirations.  The patrons are going to engage in unforgettable meals that involve loved ones, family, first dates, blind dates, best friends, business meetings, and break-ups.

In the last few years I have had the pleasure and humbled opportunity to become friends with Houston’s new generation of restaurant and bar professionals.  Its amazing for me to see this, coming from my childhood and seeing this generation blossom in front of my eyes.  I am so proud to not only know these people, but share in the same trade.

Most of you are awaiting the opening of Pass & Provisions, as am I.  I’ve seen these guys pursue their dream for the past few years.  I met Seth when he started working at laidback manor with Randy Rucker.  Also employed by laidback manor was Justin Yu and Justin Bayse.  All four of these guys I’ve seen mature and come into their own.  Justin Yu obviously has opened a success with Oxheart, aka #8.  Justin Bayse put Stella Sola on the map and now works as R&D chef for the Pappas group.  Rucker is in the process of making it happen again, this time in the ‘Trose.

David Buehrer has become the community support breeder.  He loves his community.  I first met David at a chef throw-down I was competing in at Stella Sola.  David was set-up in the corner with a catering table making espresso drinks.  I had a cappaccino and instantly knew it was something I had to have in my establishment.  So I asked him how to make that happen.  Two years later, I have a restaurant run by Baristas.   Greenway Coffee is making waves not only in Houston, but nationally.  And with Blacksmith on the way, David and Ecky are changing the coffee culture in this city, for the better.

I first met Bobby Heugel when he was changing the cocktail program at Beavers.  Rucker told me he was the man and I had to have his drinks.  An inspirational dude who just wanted to make amazing cocktails.  And you can see where he is now…everywhere.

I met Morgan Weber when he was farming pigs at Revival Farms.  I bought a Red Wattle from him.  Now Revival Market is booming in the Heights and continuously gaining national exposure.

I may be getting off on a tangent, and you get the point.  Our city is pretty damn cool.  And there are tons of industry friends I am leaving off, but I could drag this on until you fall asleep.

And what is most amazing, I get to feed these people.  There are no amount of stars or awards that can compete with this.  There is no higher reward than to be recognized by your peers.

Someday we’ll be the old guys, we’ll be the mentors.  We’ll see hot shots change our city once again.  And we’ll know we had something to do with that.

Keep it up ladies and gentlemen.  Houston is your canvas.

Extruding Pasta!

My time recently has been spent working on my business oppose to working in my business, although I am still IN it everyday. This was, indeed, the goal from the beginning. As I take on more of an operator role, my time in our test kitchen has been reduced, but not terminated. This means now I can reach out to local talent, much more talented than myself, to collaborate and expand our food & beverage program. I did so with coffee, and alcoholic beverages. I also do so with bread and gelato. I want fine products, if someone else can do it better than me, then not only do I applaud, I want to serve that product in my establishment. In return, this allows me to engage our restaurant community and give them more avenues for exposure.

We recently purchased a pasta extruder. It is our new baby and toy. Two chef friends of mine have been playing with it at their “office” for the past few weeks, working on pasta recipes and learning the ins and outs of the machine for me. Home-made pasta is a staple in the Italian culture. I use to roll dough with my great-grandmother as a kid. Although the rewards are great, the work can be daunting. And not always feasible for a restaurant. The labor is extensive and timing sometimes difficult, especially for a fast-paced establishment like ours. What the pasta extruder does for me is priceless. It will take out the daunting task and hours of labor of kneading, rolling, and then cutting. The extruder mixes the flour and water for you, then at the flip of a switch, will extrude the dough through bronze dies. Each die extrudes a different shape, with over 100 to choose from. We can now produce enough pasta for the entire day of service in just a few hours, with consistency.

The Arcobaleno extruder not only helps with ease and efficiency, it opens doors for flavored doughs as well. It is a fine piece of equipment, engineered with intelligence and will probably live longer than me, comparable to the La Marzocco of the coffee world. It’s innovations like these that keep us moving forward and inspired.

We are currently introducing 3 new home-made pastas to our menu, with more to come soon. Consider it a pasta “soft-opening”. Serving now: Rigatoni Bolognese, Canestri alla Funghi, and Bucatini Amatraciana.

As far as I know, we have the only extruder in Houston, but without doubt more will show up. Its too great of a machine, more the merrier.




I think now is a good time to announce a new project I have been working on for several months now. Its not a new restaurant, but it is definitely restaurant related.

I have started a website,, that is a searchable database of Twitter handles of Who’s Who in the Food/Beverage industry from around the world. The database currently consists of 1,800 handles, and not even close to my goal. The people and businesses have been chosen at my discretion. These people may be innovators, leaders, or just solid individuals doing important things for our industry. The categories to choose from are Chefs, Restaurateurs, Coffee (baristas, roasters, growers), Booze (bartenders, sommelier), Purveyors, News/Press, and Food Trucks.

Also featured on the site will be profiles of people whom I think are doing great things in our industry, mostly from Houston, sprinkled with other US cities. As time moves on, you can expect the geographical range to expand.

The site is free. Although I plan to monetize the site in the future, it will always be free to users.

We have been live for a few weeks now. It is a work in progress, and will continue to grow. There is a Recommend It link on the site that will deliver a message directly to my inbox.

Enjoy it! Below are a few videos edited via from last weekends Umami dinner at Kata Robata.

Merry Christmas America!

UMAMI 12/18/11 Kata Robata

Peek into conāt

Feast of Seven Fishes from Ned Elliott

On Christmas Eve, Ned Elliott from Foreign & Domestic will be offering a family style Feast of Seven Fishes.  Ned’s restaurant is in Austin, but Houston loves him too.  So he’s sharing his skills with us this Christmas.

The Feast of Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve is actually a Southern Italian tradition.   We appreciate Ned respecting our traditions.

Ned has been getting a lot of deserving press since his opening last year.  Ned has a very impressive resume, which includes opening team of Thomas Keller’s Per Se.  Please check out Foreign & Domestic impressive website.

For more information and to purchase tickets click there ———>TIX

Hope to see as many of you as possible!

Now for some gratuitous musical F&D food photos…Merry Christmas!

Tonight’s Special and Wine Tasting next Tuesday

Hello Friends!

Just a quick reminder of our “Friday night Special”:

Fettucini and Mussels

Mediterranean style mussels sauteed in EVOO, Sherry wine, onions, garlic and rosemary. Tossed in fettucini pasta.  Served with dinner salad and garlic bread.

Here are great choices to pair tonight with your dinner:

2010 Cantina del Taburno Greco (from Campania)

2008 Suavia Soave Classico “Monte Carbonare” (from the Veneto)

2010 Terlan Pinot Bianco (from Alto Adige)

Join us next Tuesday December 13th for a complimentary wine tasting from 5:00 to 7:00 PM. We will be sampling some of our great wines from our “100% Italian Wine Menu”All of our wines come from small, artisanal producers that really, really care what’s inside the Bottle.