From a very early age, Paul Grimaldi knew that his future would be focused in the kitchen.
"I was rolling meatballs when I was 8 years old... the mixing bowl was bigger than me!" laughed Grimaldi, who took over as head chef at George & Wendy's Corner Grill in mid-April. "Even back then, I was into experimenting. The ability to be creative is the most exciting thing about cooking."
The Utica, N.Y. native grew up in a family steeped in cooking traditions, started by his grandfather's restaurant business. Like Paul, his brother and cousin grew up to become chefs.
After studying both food service and hotel management at Onondaga Community College, Grimaldi spent his internship working at the Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant at Walt Disney World in Orlando. He then progressed in his career as a chef, working at Hanover Square Cafe in Syracuse, N.Y., helped open five restaurants in the Virginia Beach and Norfolk, Va. region before working for the Henry Lee Food Company in Miami Beach, Fla.
Grimaldi moved to Southwest Florida a few years ago, working at Cirella's Italian Market in Bonita Springs, Potts Sports Bar in Fort Myers and the Sanibel Harbour Resort & Spa before a friend of his clued him in on an opening at a new Sanibel eatery earlier this year.
"We've changed the menu a little bit since I came here," said Grimaldi. "We're making the kitchen more efficient and bringing some fresh, new ideas to the table."
Among the new offerings at the Corner Grill created by Grimaldi are a grouper francaise, tuna balsamico as well as a checken and shrimp mari-monte dish with a toasted garlic and roasted tomato sauce. He has also added a key lime cheesecake with a Nilla wafer crumb crust.
Grimadi also promises to feature some of his signature homemade ravioli dishes to the menu, which he previously sold exclusively on his website (www.grimaldigourmet.com). They include multiple choices of fillings — bolognese, cacciatore, florentine, lobster thermador, spiced pumpkin with mascapone cheese, pulled pork with pepperjack cheese, among others — and doughs, which include onion oregano, wasabi mustard, beet and carrot.
"Some artist's paint, some can play the piano like Beethoven," Grimaldi states. "I can make a ravioli that will change your religion."
But adding Grimaldi to their staff isn't the only change happening at George & Wendy's Corner Grill. Their new business hours are 11 a.m. to midnight daily, with lunch served from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., supper served from 5 to 9 p.m. and a late night menu offered from 9 p.m. until midnight.
For additional information, visit www.georgeandwendyscornergrill.com or stop by at 2499 Periwinkle Way, located at the corner of Periwinkle and Tarpon Bay Road. Their phone number is 395-1263