5 for Friday - Christopher Papagni, Exec VP of the International Culinary Center NYC

I have the great providence of being surrounded by inspiring people. 5 for Friday questions will be asked of artists, farmers, curators, creators, innovators, entrepreneurs etc - all of the people that I find interesting. Everyone gets the same five questions. Christopher PapagniMeet Christopher Papagni. Chris and I met the way many of my food friends meet - through sheer luck of our fortunate circumstance. I was working for Tom Douglas at the time, and tagged along with Tom to NYC for his Iron Chef Competition and James Beard House Dinner. While Christopher has worked for many years at the International Culinary Center (formerly the famous French Culinary Institute), he was our James Beard 'host' that night - someone affiliated with the JBH who would introduce Tom to the diners who had paid to attend the dinner. Long story short, Chris ended up being my surprise date. I had no idea he'd be there, and he sat at the table with my mom, her partner, Jackie (Tom's wife) and Tom's sister - already part of the family.

Shortly after our NY meeting, the International Association of Food Professionals annual conference was in Seattle. Tom Douglas Restaurants had a big last-night party for everyone at the Palace Ballroom and I made sure Chris showed up.  With a packed house, Jacques Pepin took the stage that evening and sang La Vie En Rose. It was a magical time and "Christapha" & I have been friends ever since. I love him.

1.  What did you eat for breakfast this morning? A glazed donut from Smile to Go in Soho.

2. What is one thing you do EVERY day, by choice? Drink a strong cup of Joe about 10 minutes after getting out of bed.

3. If you had all the time in the world and no budget restrictions, what one project would you take on just now? (Can be a hobby, business, trip, etc) I would go to Spain for 6 months to learn Spanish.

4. Where is your 'happy place'? Sitting in front of the ocean on a sun drenched day.

5. What is your signature dish - something you make well and consistently?  I make a seafood Paella that would knock your socks off!