Over the past 20 years, Paul Downie has lived and worked in his native Australia, Europe and the U.S., at some of the world's greatest restaurants and hotels. Returning to New York from London where he worked for Heston Blumenthal, he is currently the General Manager of Eleven Madison Park.
What do you do best?
I use my skills and experience to read people and empathize in order to anticipate our guests' needs. We then use our collective skills to create unforgettable experiences.
What makes you the best?
I don't know how I could possibly know if I'm the best, but I know for certain that on some days my team and I achieve things that feel perfect, and couldn't possibly have been done better by anyone anywhere.
How will you stay the best?
By trying to find the opportunities to learn every day, by staying humble and curious, and delivering honest and thoughtful service.
Building a life in New York City, where I suppose I have always wanted to be.
What are your aspirations?
Personal: To end up having raised my children right, and to find a place in the sun, with good time to spend with them there.
Business: To help to grow this amazing company, sharing our brand of hospitality with more and more people.
Most challenging moment?
Leading the navigation of a Norovirus (when I worked at Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner in London) outbreak, having to close the restaurant and call two weeks' worth of guests who had booked three months in advance to break the news. It was the most daunting task to undertake, but in the end it was unexpectedly successful and satisfying.
What fascinates you?
Humans, at their best and at their worst.
Face the sun, and the shadows will fall down behind you.
Michael Jordan, Frank Sinatra, Nick Downie, gentleman barber of Melbourne.
Tokyo, New York, a pristine beach anywhere.
My Sonos speakers and my Chemex.
Rugby, my sons, Stacey's Pita chips and hummus, and diet coke (not necessarily in that order, but I'm obsessed with all of them).