Chef Paul has spent the last 20 years developing his personal style of New American Cuisine, and the opening of Heritage Food & Drink is the culmination of years of hard work and dedication. From a young age, he was enthralled with the culinary world having spent many days wandering the commercial kitchens of the Philadelphia Marriott where his parents worked. In high school, when he realized that the chances of playing for his beloved Philadelphia Eagles were slim, he turned his focus towards the hospitality industry.
Starting as a dishwasher at an Italian Specialty Market that his mother ran in suburban Philadelphia, he realized that he had found his passion in life. He spent the next few years working in as many facets of the industry as possible filling roles as a server, floor manager, line cook and prep cook. Upon graduating from high school, he enrolled in the Hospitality Program at Delaware County Community College. After two years of core classes and attaining an associate’s degree in Hotel & Restaurant Management, he embarked on the next steps of his lifelong education by enrolling at The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College. While at the Restaurant School, he worked at a variety of restaurants from the Classic French and Thai blend of Nais Cuisine, to the new American stylings of Chef Peter Pryor, to the classic foundation from German Master Chef Henio Koberg. He was also fortunate to stage with Michelin Three Star Chefs - Alain Passard of L’Arpege and the late, great Bernard Louisseau of La Cote D’Or. It was while he was in France that he was introduced to the concepts of farm to table cooking and living in harmony with the seasons.
Upon graduation, Chef Paul went to work for Great Tastes incorporated who owned and operated the Carolina’s restaurants in Philadelphia and Radnor. He started his four year journey there under Chef Peter Pryor as the Lunch Chef and over the course of two years he had risen to the ranks of Corporate Chef after Chef Pryor’s departure. He later rejoined Pryor as the Chef de Cuisine at the prestigious Lansdowne Resort of Benchmark Hospitality, outside of Washington D.C. After two years at Lansdowne, Chef Verica headed south to open the White Oaks Conference Center located in the heart of Myers Park in Charlotte. When it was time for him to move on from Benchmark, he declined the offer to move to Chattanooga to remain in his newly adopted hometown of Charlotte.
Over the course of the last decade Chef Paul has been part of the emerging culinary scene of Charlotte as Executive Chef for the Providence Bistro restaurants, Executive Chef and Food & Beverage Director of The Dunhill Hotel and most recently as the Executive Chef and Director of Food Service at the prestigious Club at Longview. It was at Longview that he was able to embrace the farm to table movement gaining national press for his kitchen gardens and his seasonal and local approach to club cuisine. It was here that he started to build the amazing network of local producers which will help him bring his vision of Heritage Food & Drink to life.
When Chef Paul is not in the kitchen, he can be found spending time with his family or on a golf course. He and his wife are the proud parents of three children, Alex, Paige and Andrew. Alex followed in his father's footsteps and joined him in Heritage's kitchen when it first opened. When not absorbing everything his father is teaching him, he is attending classes in the Culinary Program at Central Piedmont Community College.