Fresh Thoughts Blog

About Chef Paul

Since childhood, making petite pies with his mother’s leftover piecrust, Buchanan has been interested in the culinary arts. His first restaurant job at the Hobbit sparked his passion for quality food and wines. This local Orange County favorite, with a prix fix menu and reservations three months in advance, was a great place to start. While living in the South Pacific he attended cooking school at the Oriental Hotel in Thailand. He then moved back to California to attend the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. Before graduating with honors, Buchanan assisted the Culinary Olympic team in their preparation to go for the Gold.

He moved on to work at some of the top restaurants in Los Angeles and Orange Counties. Starting at Campanile where he learned breads, pastries and Mediterranean dishes from famed chefs Nancy Silverton and Mark Peel. At Chez Mélange, in Redondo Beach, Buchanan worked a variety of kitchen positions including catering and developed his knowledge of the eclectic international ingredients used there. Continuing with fine cuisine he learned Franco Russian at the Bel Age Hotel restaurant Diaghilev in West Hollywood. Diaghilev was rated in the top five restaurants for food and number one for service & décor in all of Los Angeles. Buchanan continued rounding out his career with a tour at the top rated seafood restaurant Water Grill. Working the Pasta, Sauté, & Grill stations gave him the skills and knowledge required to innovatively prepare a wide variety of seafood.

The best of the best in Orange County was next as Buchanan then went to Pascal’s where he learned the foods of Southern France. Then, on to Antoine’s at the Sutton Place Hotel for Northern French cooking with Asian influences under the direction of Chef Jean Pierre Lemanissier. When Antoine’s closed, Buchanan had the opportunity to work as the Chef at the Renaissance Café in Laguna Beach. In charge of both the kitchen and front of the house, it took Buchanan just 6 months to turn the coffee and sandwich shop into a full service restaurant with a strong following. He created a menu utilizing seasonal ingredients, locally provided whenever available. During this time Buchanan earned a certificate in Restaurant Management from University of California at Irvine, Extension Program.

Then, with a good deal of experience behind him, Chef Buchanan joined the ranks at Patina Catering under the direction of Joachim Splichal & Johnny Fernow. Catering to the stars of L.A. and executing large events (Emmys for 3000) was commonplace. The next jump was a big one. Corporate Executive Chef John Sharpe of West Coast Productions in Orange County hired Buchanan as Executive Chef. At the helm for both Topaz Café in the Bowers Museum and West Coast Productions Catering, Buchanan rose to the challenge and successfully turned out exciting and innovative menus. One very special series of events, The Native American Feasts he orchestrated in the courtyard of the museum, became the hot ticket in Orange County.

With his accumulated knowledge in the culinary arts, business, management and catering, Buchanan created his own company, Primal Alchemy. Experimentation with food, water and fire was mans first science. The earliest known alchemy; Primal Alchemy, was man attempting to turn raw meats and vegetables into richer, more flavorful dishes. Chef Paul is passionate about using sustainable, organic foods. He expertly applies mans first science with today’s technology to create incredible tasting, healthy cuisine. Primal Alchemy offers catering for both corporate & private clientele serving from 2 to 200 guests. They can accommodate a wide variety of functions; from private multi-course dinners paired with wines to weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and showers.

Buchanan is passionate about the role wine plays in the culinary experience. He is zealous about studying wines and the wine making process. He has traveled to many of the world’s winemaking regions in an effort to educate his palate. Chef Paul is especially enthusiastic about discovering new grape varietals to introduce to his clients.

Chef Paul also consults for the restaurant industry to help create custom menus, signature items and productive work systems. He can assist with kitchen design and layout to improve overall cost and labor efficiency.
As a volunteer with AIWF, Days of Taste, Buchanan enjoys educating children about making healthy choices in tablishing their diets. By taking them to farmers markets and showing them how healthy food can be prepared, Chef Paul teaches them that eating good can be fun. Buchanan has also taught classes at the Mondavi Food & Wine Center on seafood and Native American Cuisine.

On a personal note, Paul enjoys organic gardening, wine tasting, camping and hiking, scuba diving, skating and cooking at home for his wife, Dana and his daughter, Skye Luna.

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