Get to Know: Paige Sullivan, Executive Chef, Minnesota Vikings
When it comes to fueling the field, FLIK Hospitality has what it takes. In our growing athletics division, our tailored approach to culinary excellence means working hand-in-hand with each team’s dietitians and performance coaches. Together, we are able to personalize each athlete’s experience, while educating them about their individual nutrition goals to better understand how diet affects performance on the field.
It's time to spotlight the leaders responsible for the performance fuel at these training tables, including FLIK's own, Paige Sullivan, Executive Chef at the Minnesota Vikings. Meet our star Executive Chef and hear all about her career, leadership style in the kitchen, and what it really feels like to feed those pro football players.
FLIK: Tell us about your background. How long have you been a chef?
Chef Paige: I’ve been in the culinary and hospitality industry for 24 years. My first jobs were washing dishes in a pancake house, waiting tables in a Chinese restaurant, and bartending during my college years. After getting a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Minnesota, I went on to culinary school with a greater understanding of how food works (and doesn’t work!). I’ve since been a pastry chef, sous chef, and, most recently, a regional chef working at other NFL and college training tables around the country.
FLIK: When it comes to football, your heart belongs to the Vikings. Are there any other sports leagues or teams that you follow?
Chef Paige: Football has always been my favorite sport to watch, and the Vikings have always been my personal team. Now that I’m the chef for this amazing group of peoples, I watch the game with a different perspective. I want the coaches, players, and everyone involved to have a great day at work and stay healthy!
FLIK: Can you dish on the team? What are the players’ favorite meals?
Chef Paige: Chicken wing day! We grill the wings with salt and pepper, then give everyone the option to customize their order with different homemade sauces and rubs. Buffalo, Extra Spicy Buffalo, BBQ, Lemon Pepper, Ranch, Honey Mustard…I always laugh when someone wants to combine all of them!
I’m working on adding some dishes and themes to the menus this season that will hopefully expand some culinary horizons and become new fan favorites: house-made bone broth, bao buns, pho, and ramen bowls.
FLIK: What’s the best question you have gotten from a player?
Chef Paige: I love when players are excited about food and want to learn more about it. I’m very passionate about incorporating education these players can take with them for the rest of their lives, even beyond their football career. It’s also important to me that the players feel comfortable asking our FLIK team about the food—we have the opportunity to build trust with our customers and we don’t take that for granted.
We have had some pretty great questions though…”What kind of animal is venison?” (deer), and “What’s the difference between bison and buffalo?” (Though very similar, bison are native to the North America and parts of Europe and buffalo are found in South Asia and Africa. And when it comes to eating bison or buffalo, both meats tend to be leaner, more tender, and richer in flavor than beef.)
FLIK: Any tips on leading a successful team in what we imagine can be a demanding environment?
Chef Paige: Focusing on my culinary team is a huge priority—we would not be successful if it weren’t for one another. I encourage my team to be creative, to workshop ideas, to listen to our customers, and to have fun! I have so much love and pride for our team, and I take my role as Executive Chef seriously, but there is a time and place for fun, and we definitely like to honor that part of the job too!
FLIK: That kind of environment is infectious. I’m sure the FLIK team feeds off your energy since you work in close quarters. Do you think it rubs off on the Vikings team too?
Chef Paige: Yes! The players work extremely hard day in and day out—they burn up to 8,000 calories per day! We have fun with surveys during meal periods. It’s a great way for us to get some feedback and engage with our clientele, plus it gets everyone’s minds off work for a minute. Some questions we’ve asked: Do beans belong in chili? What stage of the banana is best to eat it? Is a hot dog a sandwich?
FLIK: Tell us more about you! What makes Paige tick?
Chef Paige: I love animals! If I were going to have another career, I would probably be a vet. I have so much compassion for animals. My hubby and I have two amazing dogs named Jerry and Iona.
At FLIK Hospitality Group we believe in great food, great service, and great people. Our wellness first approach ensures our food supports healthy and delicious choices, specially curated by our team of culinary experts and registered dietitians. At FLIK, we believe in seasonality in sourcing our ingredients and providing a customized approach to the culinary and hospitality needs of each client. Our dedication to providing quality hospitality service is unparalleled in the industry.
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