By Kate Rogers, Staff writer
Chef Carole Paulo works in Brooks dining hall on the Gorham campus of USM. After being in Maine for only five months she has already made a splash with her unique ideas, her skill and her passion.
Originally from Haiti, Paulo moved to Boston, Massachusetts 28 years ago in 1996. After graduating from high school she went to Massasoit Community College and graduated with a culinary arts degree. Not long after, she went back and got another degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management. At her first job at a hotel in Boston, Paulo started as a kitchen supervisor, worked her way up to sous chef and eventually chef. She has been working as a chef for nearly twenty years in hotels, senior living facilities and restaurants. In 2010 she went back to school again, this time at the Art Institute of Atlanta to study Culinary Management. “My goal is always to do more with myself,” Paulo said. “I always want to go and go and go and do more.”
In 2011 Paulo found her job with Sodexo, the quality of life organization that provides USM with food services. When she saw the opportunity to work at a University for Sodexo, she took it and moved to Maine. Her goal at USM is to share her experiences. “I’ve been around,” she said. “I am from a different country.” Paulo says that because she is a foreigner, she wants to bring people food from new and different cultures that they can enjoy. People don’t want to eat the same food every day, they want to try new things. “I want to bring all kinds of food to the table because I have experience with all of them, I like playing with them, I like to see people eating it,” she said.
Two weeks ago Paulo helped organize a Haitian food night at Brooks. It went incredibly well, and Paulo says that there will definately be more events like it in the future. “To this day people are still talking about it to tell you the truth…I enjoyed it and they enjoyed it.” she said about the event.
Paulo says that working at a University is truly not any different than working anywhere else.
“My job is to provide quality food, and safety. It’s a cafe, we are serving food, we have to do it right…and I want everybody on my team to do it right,” she said.
Overall, Paulo wants to provide what she calls “a wow factor” with her food. Having gone to college for three degrees, she knows school cafeteria’s well. She knows that students want to be able to come to the cafeteria and get the food they want instead of having to go out to restaurants to get it. When she was at college, she never got a wow factor from the food there. Now that she has the opportunity, she wants to make that different at USM. “It’s not about money, it’s just you wanna see a wow factor, and that’s my goal…it’s my passion and it always will be..it’s what I want to do…they chose me for a reason it’s to make the students happy,” she said.
People often tell Paulo that she has a gift, and she agrees. “Everywhere I work they don’t want me to leave. They are always crying, they are always sad,” she said. She gave advice on how to connect with people so strongly. The important things are not just food, but how you treat people and how you carry yourself. She knows that she treats people well and that is why they value her. “They know I’m here for them and there’s nothing…I won’t do as a manager,” she said.
Paulo also stressed the importance of loving what you do. “It don’t matter to me, do dirty work, do hard work, do easy work–whatever the day brings, I’m in,” she said. “I’m lucky enough that God sent me to college to learn something that I want to do. I’m living the dream.”
“Go to school for something you like. Don’t see money, because you’re never gonna be happy. Someday you’re going to feel like you can’t take it no more but if you do like it, it makes a huge difference,” Paulo said. Her passion, hard work and enthusiasm got her very far in life. She not only brought great food to USM, she also brought inspiration.