Chef Paul Allen has a strong passion for food and community.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, he used his strengths in the culinary arts to lead a group called Hillbilly Smokers, which he says provided food for more than 7,500 people. He says the work is his proudest accomplishment to date.
“We fed those in need that were hungry in Springfield and Branson weekly,” Allen says. “The community quickly came to the call and helped us feed thousands every week. To work with such an amazing community truly inspired me to do more for the community.”
Friend and client Kym Russell, co-founder and executive council of Russell Cellular Inc., said his work to serve hungry families during the pandemic is among local efforts “reminding us all of our humanity and responsibility to each other during this unprecedented time.”
“I don’t know anyone who has a greater empathy for our neighbors here in southwest Missouri,” Russell says. “As I observe him in person and through social media, I am constantly impressed with his innovation and determination.”
Allen’s work during the pandemic has inspired him to create a nonprofit called Eat Real Food, through which he wants to help people get food when they need it and teach other communities to duplicate the process. His community work also includes volunteering for Brightwater: A Center for the Study of Food in Arkansas, as well as Victory Mission in Springfield. Over the last five years, he’s also volunteered as a judge for Pro-Start Missouri to help children become interested in food-industry careers.
Prior to becoming engrained in Springfield’s food scene, Allen worked as a private yacht chef for 15 years. During that time, he was named the most fashionable chef in 2004 by yachting magazine Dockwalk, and he became known for his wine knowledge after touring vineyards in Italy and America. He also previously was a chef at the Ritz Carlton in Naples, Florida.
“I have cultivated a wide range of talents to meet the needs of my clients,” he says. “I can keep it simple or create the most grandiose dinner party.”
During his time as a yacht chef, Allen learned that the “best ingredient is a local ingredient.”
He put that concept to work via Springfield-based Farm 2 Counter Inc. The company provided local ingredients through a boxed meal delivery service, and he’s since put the business up for sale this summer.
He’s currently putting his efforts toward Allen Event Group, a catering business that serves events throughout the Ozarks.
Russell says clients of Allen – aka Chef Pauly – quickly become friends as they learn of his various travel adventures and culinary experiences.
“What I love most about working with Pauly as a private chef is that he shares his positive energy and zest for life with our guests as he delivers innovative dishes to our table,” Russell says. “Pauly has experienced a level of luxury and refinement in his travels that he wants desperately to share with all of his guests.”
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