Ty Paup Shows Why Bon Appétit Is a “Chef-Driven Company”
- by Norris Mei
Small bundles of herbs hang drying in Culinary Director Ty Paup’s office: bay leaves, sage flowers, lavender, and rosemary, all picked from a small garden at Brown University in Providence, RI. On one shelf, Ty is lacto-fermenting opal basil buds for use as a bright, floral, and salty garnish. Elsewhere, he’s fermenting vinegars and curing local Berkshire guanciale in the kitchen, and to the delight of some fans, making cultured butter. The latter has sprung a fervent following on campus — consider it one of his many secret sauces.
Ty’s passion for cooking arose as a young boy watching his mom make food from scratch every day. He made note of the way his parents carefully procured ingredients from butcher shops and produce markets; while his two brothers pursued other interests, Ty spent his time in the kitchen cooking with his mom. Now a father of five, he tries to instill the same love of food in his family.
Ty was working for a fine-dining catering company in 2006 when he learned about Bon Appétit through a chance meeting with Norman Zwagil (resident district manager at Goucher College) at a farmers’ market. Norman told him about Bon Appétit’s unique chef-driven culture, and Ty was immediately intrigued. “Right away, it was sort of love at first sight for me with Bon Appétit,” recalls Ty. “A couple weeks later I met with Norman, and a week later, he hired me.”
Ty was Goucher’s executive chef for several years and spent a few years on the general manager side for Bon Appétit at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and also briefly left the company. (But “it just wasn’t the same,” he says.) When Brown announced it was partnering with Bon Appétit for its food service in 2016, Regional Manager Paul Bulau couldn’t think of anyone better than Ty to lead the culinary operations. “Ty is loved by all and has had a huge impact on the food program at Brown,” praises Paul.
“I try to put my hands in everyone’s soup pots” — figuratively speaking! — “and help them make the best soup possible,” he explains. “I like to surround myself with great people.”
As Brown’s culinary director, Ty helps everyone (from the kitchen and catering to marketing and finance) to elevate the food experience. “I try to put my hands in everyone’s soup pots” — figuratively speaking! — “and help them make the best soup possible,” he explains. “I like to surround myself with great people.”
One of the new programs that he’s introduced is an ongoing monthly Chef’s Table dinner series that has amassed a following and routinely sells out within days. “His menu writing is second to none — if there’s any kind of menu writing for special events or proposals, he’s our go-to chef,” says Paul. It’s important to Ty to stay creative as a chef and to give his chefs the chance to cook from the heart and make fun, eclectic food that one wouldn’t expect on a college campus. Along the same line, he recently joined Bon Appétit chefs from several other prestigious East Coast colleges to cook at the renowned James Beard House in New York, challenging diners’ perception of what constitutes “school food.”
At the end of the day, Ty is most passionate about serving people a nourishing meal and building a community around food — whether it’s a 10-course feast for 15 VIPs or shepherd’s pie for hundreds of students. After the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017, Ty was part of a group of Bon Appétit chefs sent to help World Central Kitchen founder and Bon Appétit chef-partner José Andrés feed people on the ground in Puerto Rico and joined him again a year later in Florida after Hurricane Michael. “It really changed my life. It’s not a cozy, comfy story, but these people were in dire need, and anything I was able to do to help, I was proud of it,” Ty reflects. “I think of my wife and my kids. If the house was gone and we didn’t have anything, for someone to feed me, that would mean the world.”
“Ty has all the tenets and ideals of this company running through his veins,” lauds Paul. “He’s a super chef with a big picture vision.”