The only one of Ouita Michel’s restaurants that has not had the pleasure of Nick Zaluski’s presence is Wallace Station.
He’s worked as a sous chef at Honeywood, Smithtown Seafood and Holly Hill Inn, a cook at Windy Corner Market and baker at The Midway Bakery.
After studying for a culinary degree at Sullivan University, Nick worked in catering at Champion Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club, and then cooked at Jean Farris Winery. He has cooked for Ouita’s restaurants since 2013.
“I have been fortunate to train under respected chefs, including Ben O'Daniel at Jean Farris Winery, Tanya Whitehouse at Holly Hill Inn, Jon Sanning at Smithtown Seafood, Jon Turock from Windy Corner Market, Tyler McNabb from Holly Hill Inn, and, of course, Ouita Michel,” Nick said.
Baking is one of Nick’s favorite jobs in the kitchen. While at Sullivan, Nick made pizzas at Mancino’s, working up to lead baker. Before coming to Honeywood, his family’s signature baklava was added to the Holly Hill Inn dessert menu. At Honeywood, Nick makes the Honeywood cake, a tres leches-style cake, and hopes to find the time to create dessert specials.
Nick has volunteered with Seedleaf, a group that helps communities access healthy food by creating community gardens and youth nutrition and cooking programs. He lives in Lexington.
Paul Hieb swapped out paintbrushes for chef’s knives shortly after he graduated from Murray State with a degree in Studio Arts.
“I realized I was wanting to cook more than make art,” Paul says. So he switched gears.
He studied culinary arts at Johnson and Wales in Rhode Island, started working for Chef Wayne Gibson at Angel’s restaurant and fell in love with cooking. He named his second son Gibson in honor of the chef.
“I love to cook because I feel a connection to it, like when I was painting,” Paul said. “It is immediate, it is never the same, and you can create something new every day.”
He went to New York where he worked at Rihga Royal Hotel, Home Restaurant, An American Place and the Victory Kitchen, all while trying to expand his knowledge of American food. He later earned a 50-hour certification from the Quillisascut School of Sustainability and Domestic Arts in Washington and spent 10 years working in Round Rock, Texas, before moving back to Kentucky to be closer to family.
Paul started working for Ouita Michel in 2013 at Glenn’s Creek Café at Woodford Reserve Distillery, and was sous chef at her Smithtown Seafood on West Sixth.
He said he loves working at Zim’s, cooking with local ingredients and having fun with his coworkers.
“There are many moving parts to this establishment and never a dull moment,” Paul said. “I am like a kid in a candy store, every day.”
Kelin began her culinary training at age 4 in the kitchen with her mother and grandmother and that’s when she fell in love with cooking. By age 7, she was preparing breakfast for her sister and herself before their parents awoke.
Kelin continued to develop her hospitality skills during her teens, working in a local pizza and pasta restaurant where her talents were quickly recognized and by age 20 she was the general manager.
Kelin studied at Transylvania University before receiving a bachelor’s degree in business administration in marketing from the University of Kentucky.
She joined the Ouita Michel Family of Restaurants in 2017 at Honeywood and again, her guest service talents were quickly identified and she was asked to serve in management at Zim’s Cafe and The Thirsty Fox.
“I love getting to work with so many talented people and learn new things every day,” Kelin said. “Each day is another challenge and I thrive in that atmosphere.”
Kelin and her fiance, Michael, share their Lexington home with two dogs, Raja and Petra, and two cats, Hoboken and Gizmo.