It took awhile, but Paul Fitzpatrick has settled down.
Along with his wife of seven months, Jessie, and son Keagan, the young family found harbor in Nisswa, not far from the Gull Lake cabin from which Fitzpatrick has so many childhood memories.
The son of Brainerd's city attorney Tom Fitzpatrick, Paul Fitzpatrick grew up in Brainerd and graduated from Brainerd High School in 2000.
After high school he moved to Florida for a year, "just to hang out," he said. He moved back to Brainerd, then went to photography school in Montana, culinary school in Minneapolis and eventually ended up back in Brainerd.
Paul Fitzpatrick, the chef at Morey's Seafood Market in Baxter, often creates his own recipes and flavor combinations for deli salads and party trays. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls
"I always ended up in kitchens," Fitzpatrick said of his work history.
It started in Florida where he worked as a bus boy at an Olive Garden. He gained experience working at many restaurants, but credits Bruno Oakman, chef at the now-closed Willie's Wine Bar and Cuisine in Minneapolis for teaching him culinary prowess.
"I learned a lot of my skills from him," Fitzpatrick said.
Even though he's lived and worked in many places around the country, Fitzpatrick said the trees and lakes keep pulling him back to the Brainerd area.
"I'm just not a city guy," he said. "I like to look out my back door and see woods."
Local restaurants on his resume: Poncho & Lefty's, Ernie's on Gull Lake, Nisswa Grille, TJ's Log Cabin, Hickory Grille.
Best sellers at Morey's deli: Holiday salmon spread and Mexican ole dip.
Favorite meal to eat at home: Tuna Helper.
Family favorite: Homemade pot pies.
First job: Selling golf balls at a driving range in Nisswa.
Tidbit: Paul Fitzpatrick's grandfather traded some land and his car in the 1920s for their cabin on Gull Lake.
Fitzpatrick, 27, is now the chef at Morey's Seafood Market in Baxter where he makes deli salads, party trays and helps customers decide how to cook their seafood.
"I love creating dishes," he said. "I love the reaction people give when they take the first few bites."
His favorite dish he created for Morey's is caramelized onion with smoked trout and brie.
Fitzpatrick said he misses the hustle and bustle of a restaurant kitchen, but enjoys being able to spend more time with his family.
He does most of the cooking at home, often making up recipes of his own. He usually cooks with fish once or twice a week, and at 22 months old, Keagan's favorite seafood is smoked salmon.
Fitzpatrick spends most of his free time at his family's cabin. Formerly a Brainerd High School star swimmer, Fitzpatrick now enjoys wakeboarding, swimming and tubing on Gull Lake. He looks forward to teaching his son how to ice fish as well.
Fitzpatrick said he loves being a dad and looks forward to pulling into his driveway after work daily.
"Every day I come home and see (Keagan's) head poking out the window saying 'Daddy! Daddy!,'" Fitzpatrick recalled.
HEIDI LAKE may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5879.
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