Paul Gerard, Co-Owner and Chef, Exchange Alley restaurant
With a plethora of restaurants to choose from in New York City, it’s evident that there is an art to running a flourishing eatery that stands apart. But it takes an individual with an appetite for authenticity and a passion for hospitality to transform a meal into a multisensory culinary experience.
Chef Paul Gerard, also a musician and writer, imbues every aspect of his East Village restaurant, Exchange Alley, with his signature artistic flair — savory New Orleans-inspired dishes in a custom-designed space that boasts dim lighting, rock music and a 1940s film noir vibe.
After living in the Big Easy for a decade, Gerard returned to his native New York and brought his love for NoLA’s cuisine home. Gerard opened Exchange Alley, a true culmination of his creative spirit, in Spring 2012. Just like his beloved rock n’ roll, dishes are simple and straightforward. And so is his approach to hospitality. Gerard ensures his customers feel like they’re in his home — listening to records, having a cocktail, and enjoying cuisine inspired by his creative lifestyle.
Paul Gerard is one of a few individuals featured in the Lincoln Motor Company’s current print campaign for the all-new 2013 MKZ.
A Few Words for Proust
We asked Paul to respond to a few questions from the Proust questionnaire.
What is your greatest fear?
My kids being hurt.
What is your favorite occupation (way of spending time)?
Creating. Writing, cooking, music, exchanging ideas.
What historical figure do you most identify with?
Is The Fonz considered a historical figure?
Who is your favorite fictional hero?
Peter Pan…or Rocky Sullivan.
Who are your real-life heroes?
The guys that show up. The guys that show up every day and do what is required…no matter what.
What is your most treasured possession?
I don’t stay attached to “things.” I’ve gained and lost enough in life to accept that things come and go, but I do have some beautiful art I’d be very sad to see go.
What is your favorite journey?
Is there more than one? The path is the goal, no? I’m on it.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Temperance. I have the word ‘DESIRE’ tattooed across my stomach. I was never one for moderation. And not that you asked, but defiance is the most underrated.
On what occasion do you lie?
At this point in my life, I have no reason to. I don’t put myself in situations I’d need to…though when it comes to a good story, I don’t believe the truth should get in the way.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I’d love to be able to quiet my brain and be truly present.
Where would you like to live?
I live here. New York. I used to jump borders like schoolyard fences, if I didn’t wanna be here, I wouldn’t be here.
What is it you most dislike?
In this world, I could go on for hours about things that irk me, but I’ll keep it simple: BBQ Chicken as a pizza topping.
How would you like to die?
Does anybody ever say anything other than peacefully in my bed surrounded by my serene family? OK, then it’s a toss up between a fiery car crash, and my heart exploding in Chateau Marmont.
If you were to die and come back as a person or an animal, what do you think it would be?
Now, or after I work off my karmic inheritance? Too soon to tell.
If you could choose an object to come back as, what would you choose?
The spire on the Chrysler Building.
What are some words you live by or have meant a lot to you?
I had a very good man ask me once how I was feeling, and before I had a chance to gripe and be ungrateful he said, ‘Paulie, I don’t care how you feel, I care what you do.’ That changed me immediately.