Women 2 Watch: Nashville chef Deb Paquette

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A pioneer in Nashville’s restaurant scene, Chef Deb Paquette has spent four decades working in the industry and she’s not slowing down any time soon.  

Paquette broke into the business more than 40 years ago after culinary school, working in New York and Florida before making the move to Music City.  

“I’ve seen a lot.  I haven’t seen it all, but I’ve seen a lot.  But I had a good role just finding good people to work with,” said Paquette. 

She credits her success to hard work.  

“Having a strong work ethic and strong discipline helped me get to where I am today.  Here I am so many years later, as a 62-year-old woman still working the line,” added Paquette. 

For more than a decade, Paquette’s Zola was a must-visit restaurant on West End Avenue, receiving national attention for its food and atmosphere. 

Paquette said finding success now isn’t like it used to be.  

“Back in the 80’s there really was no food network, no push from people where to go, where to work, or what the big industry is all about. It’s nothing like today when you can say I’m going to Chicago, I’m going to L.A., the big food cities. You kind of had to find a spot through Osmosis and make it work for yourself.”  

Today, Paquette oversees Etch downtown and Etc. in Green Hills.  

She said she’s happy to see more women in professional kitchens.  

“I always encourage women. Women are an asset to this industry.  They come out of the womb different than men. They’re ready they have this built-in nurture system.  A built-in genetic thing that says I can work hard.  Look at their mothers.  Being a parent, being a mom especially is a hard job!” 

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