Tops exclusive one-on-one interview with Wahlberg, and how to treat dad to Wahlburgers at home this Father’s Day
By Tops Markets
We all know that a good, homecooked meal is what brings us home time and again to gather together around the table with our families. The same is true for world-renowned chef Paul Wahlberg. Whether it’s for a family celebration or nightly dinner, food was always at the core of chef Wahlberg’s upbringing.
At Tops, we had the pleasure of speaking with chef Wahlberg and learned more about who inspired him, what keeps his passion for the business alive, and gained some great insight that we can all live by.
“For me, the one thing growing up, we are always sharing meals and food,” he said. “Every celebration started with a meal and birthdays always ended with a slice of ice cream and a slice of cake. I said that right, a slice of ice cream. You crack open the carton and slice up the ice cream. You always got your favorite meal for your birthday, too. There was always this sense of importance of meals. For me, being able to relate to how it was growing up for us at mealtime, it was just a perfect segue to setting up a Wahlburgers. And I don’t know – one thing just led to another for me. We were always eating burgers. There was always food.”
At Tops, we are excited to bring a taste of Wahlburgers and those infamous burgers to Tops shoppers with the “Wahlburgers at Home” product line. These premium burgers are perfect for Father’s Day grilling! What better way to show dad that he’s Tops then firing up the grill and preparing a juicy Wahlburger!
Wahlburgers are a custom blend of angus brisket, chuck and short rib that is always fresh – never frozen – ensuring that your dad will enjoy a tender juicy packed burger full of rich flavor. Try one of his favorites this Father’s Day, the Wahlburgers’ prosciutto and blue cheese burger at www.Topsmarkets.com/BurgerBar.
Speaking of dad’s, the importance of family and tradition was very clear when speaking with chef Wahlberg. Growing up with eight other siblings, meal preparation was a big part of their day-to-day, and everyone took part – especially his own father, Donald. In looking back, he never realized how much food and the preparation of it consumed his day-to-day life.
“My dad had two large pans – only saw them in the morning – dads on prep – my dad he cooked a lot,” Wahlberg said. “We knew what was happening just by watching the morning preparation of what they were making for us. We’d see bread drying, so we knew what was happening. Knew stuffing was happening. The excitement of all of that.
“Pay day was on Friday. Saturday morning my dad and I or he and one of my brothers, we were always the first people at the grocery store, and we’d fill a carriage plus with the weekly shopping. Now people shop just for a day. My dad knew where everything was in the store. He wanted to get in and out. Looking back, I never realized how much it (food) consumed my life growing up.”
Having been surrounded by cooking not only was he influenced by his parents, but by cooking shows like “The Galloping Gourmet.” He saw that you could make people happy by cooking, which he gravitated toward. But the real energy, he noted, and what he loves, is in the kitchen.
“It’s kind of a controlled chaos,” Wahlberg said.
It seemed only natural then for Chef to go into this line of work looking back, but he noted that he couldn’t have done it alone.
“Mark, Donnie and Bob are my support system. And I’ve got a great team,” Wahlberg said. “I’m blessed to have the people that I do. We love what we do. I’m so fortunate cooking found me is how I look at it, and once it did, I was hooked. Sharing my passion is what I love. They love what they do – my brothers, that is. It’s all truly a blessing. I think it’s hugely important to do what we love and making it happen for me and everyone else and the support we’ve gotten all across the country; we are very fortunate.”
It is clear in speaking with him that he loves what he does and that he feeds off the energy that he receives from the people he surrounds himself with – not only his family and team members, but the people that love his products.
“Once we started putting the product out there and people gravitated toward it, you know, were receptive toward it, we just continued with it,” Wahlberg said. “And obviously there is the celebrity aspect to the business. But we’re really blessed with the team that we’ve put together. They’ve really driven the business. They have a love of customer service. And we saw that people really enjoyed it. When people say, ‘I’ve been waiting to get to a Wahlburger all day,’ or when someone comes back to your restaurant or says, ‘This is my favorite.’ This is the highest praise you can receive. I’ll hear someone say, ‘I’ve been waiting to have x or y. It’s amazing.’ When people say they love the product and are supportive of it, it’s a great feeling.”
Chef always is looking to keep things fresh with new innovations, so you can look forward to seeing new and exciting things coming from the Wahlburger line soon.
“There are things we are looking at expanding the line with further, yes. We’re currently in different stages of production,” Wahlberg said. “But the product has to speak for itself. It’s not about making a new item – it needs to be at the core of who we are. We focus on the real quality of the product itself.”
Tops Markets is headquartered in Williamsville and operates 157 full-service supermarkets with five additional franchise stores. It is the largest private, for-profit employer in Western New York. For more information, visit www.topsmarkets.com.