The Weekender Interview: Paulo de Tarso

By Joe Lutrario contact

- Last updated on GMT

Margot's Paulo de Tarso on Daniel Boulud and his dislike of no reservations restaurants

Related tags: Olive oil, Want

The front of house maestro and Margot co-founder shares his pearls of wisdom and pays homage to two of New York's most prominent restaurateurs.

What image do you currently have on your phone’s wallpaper?
My family

What was your first job?
My parents got me a job changing car windows in a mechanic shop for a few months when I was 10. They start them young where I come from. But my first real job was as a dishwasher in New York. 

Gordon or Marco?
Daniel Boulud

What was the last film you saw in the cinema?
The new Star Wars (or possibly Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle). I love films and used to see everything in the cinema, it’s one of my favourite things to do. Between having kids and the restaurant, there’s not a lot of time to get to the cinema these days

What is your guiltiest food pleasure?
Salumi board with focaccia bread and olive oil. I could eat that every day. Or our homemade pistachio ice cream. It will always be on the menu, because it’s my absolute favourite.

Where are you going on your next holiday?

What industry figure do you most admire (and why)?
Daniel Boulud, because he is willing to share his wisdom. He’s bigger than life. And Danny Meyer has been incredible for our industry, and how much he gives back. They inspire me not just professionally but as a human being

If you weren’t in restaurants, what would you do?
I would be a footballer

Biggest regret?
I wish I had been more focused. It took me a while to realise my path was so obviously leading me to the restaurant industry

Restaurant czar for a day – what would you implement?
Mandatory to provide comfortable setting and friendly staff

Pet hate?

Oddest thing a customer has said to you?
A diner once asked me if I could change the shape of the tables 

Marmite: love it or hate it?
Disgusting, it’s like asphalt 

Describe your management style in three words
Discipline. Support. Values

What country do you next want to visit?

What’s the most overrated thing in restaurants?
Sitting on uncomfortable benches in a sparse setting, after queuing for a table

What made you want to go into restaurants?
I love that every day is different

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Work hard, ask questions, and don’t worry about titles. Don’t take the elevator to the top, you won’t have all the tools you need and will be in over your head very quickly. It’s an industry about people and knowledge and being able to act under pressure, so it takes time to develop the natural instincts along the way. Don’t rush

Describe your most awkward professional moment…
A very famous customer came to my maître d’s desk, and positioned her breast on top of my hand where I’d been holding the edge of the stand. I missed the chance to move because I thought she’d step back immediately once she saw my hand, but she didn’t, and I couldn’t take my hand away without jostling her, so I was completely trapped and had to carry on as though it was perfectly natural to be pinned under her breast as other customers walked by

iPhone or Android?
iPhone. There is no alternative

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
There is nothing you can do about the past, the future is there if you focus now in the present. Be grateful for what you have

What’s your earliest memory?
My sister dropping me off at school and her horn getting stuck so it kept sounding. It was very embarrassing

Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
Home with my family. And I play football a couple nights a week to keep me sane

Twitter or Instagram?
It used to be Twitter, but now definitely Instagram for me

Tipple of choice?
Orange juice, freshly squeezed 

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Chicken Milanese with rocket salad, balsamic vinegar and olive oil on top so the dressing flavours the chicken too, and potatoes. Simple, straight forward, good food

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