Chef Paul's Plat de Résistance
"Hey, this book sums up exactly what I feel about my profession," says Paul Bash as he holds up a copy of The Joy of Cooking.
We sat down with the retired restaurateur who has become a prominent figure in the Little Rock culinary scene. Nicknamed Arkansas' First Chef, generations of Arkansans have learned from him the art of hospitality for over thirty years.
"I'm a chef and as a result, one of the things that is near and dear to my heart are culinary schools and we have one of the most fantastic culinary schools in the country right here in Pulaski County."
Recently, Chef Paul has included UA – Pulaski Technical College Foundation in his will so that "other people will be able to continue to enjoy the benefits and the joys of this great profession."
Chef Paul started his career in Little Rock as the Executive Chef of Jacques and Suzanne, once the finest restaurant in the city known for introducing European delicacies. Years later, families would have seen him helping his staff at The Purple Cow restaurants, which he founded. When talking about his legacy, it's more than soufflés and signature shakes.
"The legacy is not so much about me, it's about my good fortune...There's going to be other people who will go on and they're going to go on a different path because of what I've been able to set up. It's not about me, it's about them."
Paul Bash approached UA – Pulaski Technical College Foundation in May 2014 wanting to help students pursue an associate's degree in Culinary Arts. Being fortunate enough to have received help from others during his training, he set up the "Paul Bash French Whip Scholarship."
"What I've done to set up the "French Whip Scholarship" doesn't necessarily take a half a million dollars. You can set up and start very basically, like I did. Then continue to add to it as you feel comfortable in doing that.
"Then at the end, when I'm no longer here, maybe give that chunk that's left in your will knowing that you feel really good about it. The Foundation's going to use your money to benefit who knows how many people."
The esteemed chef was inspired by his own culinary guardian angel.
"It's a blessing to me," he said. "The same guy that helped me get my scholarship, ten years later, was the guy that got me two years in Europe under some of the best chefs in Belgium and in Switzerland. So, I'm willing to give back and want to give back. It's worthwhile."
Knowing that he is making a difference in the lives of young chefs, his voice fills with emotion and excitement that it has come full circle.
"One of the things that happened to me after I set up the scholarship was I met the recipient of the first scholarship and his father came with him. He turned to me and choked me up because he said, 'Without your scholarship, my son couldn't have continued in school. He would have had to drop out.' Those are strong words and emotional words. You think, Hey, I'm really helping this kid."
Every time a child drinks a purple milkshake or a culinary student picks up a French whip, Paul Bash's contribution will be felt throughout Central Arkansas for many years to come.
To watch Chef Paul's interview, click here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDb0XZ9Y8Pw