After leaving the nest Will Thoms had made for me, I went to play with the big boys at the St. Louis Fish Market at the Embassy Suites on Laclede's Landing. One way or another, I was going to make my mark.

Shortly before my hiring, the hotel had brought on one of the hottest chefs out of the south side of Chicago to breath life into this high-end seafood restaurant. Phillip was a small statured Greek, but the type that would beat your ass with a lead pipe in his biker jacket if you put out some jacked-up crab cakes. Now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure he slammed me into a refrigerator once. Outside of work?... he could put Jameson down as well as he could cook. He had that laugh that got a room going, and the personality that you wanted to party with.

We would go to war for him.

Creative & intense, Phillip cut no corners, and taught me to do the same. He pounded relentless - almost religious - ideals & benchmarks into me for 4 years, expanding my wheelhouse 10-fold, never giving a damn about my blooming ego. He gave me opportunity, held me accountable, and took the time to mentor me into the chef I would become. He set the stage for the rest of my career.

I'll be forever in debt to a few people that changed my life, and Phillip Paris is at the top of the list.

"There's no such thing as a secret recipe. Fresh, quality product."

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