Meal Estate: Live from the Kitchen with Chef-Agent Paul Zweben | Elliman Insider

By Grace Cassidy

When Paul Zweben told his grandmother that he wanted to be a chef, she was…less than encouraging.

Paul Zweben

“She told me, ’You should be a doctor! Or a lawyer!’” he recalled.

Happily, he was not discouraged. At 14 years old, he got a job at a bakery, taking what proved to be the first step on a 28-year career journey as an acclaimed chef and restauranteur in New York City and Washington D.C.

Although he decided to step away from the restaurant grind and follow his wife, Carolyn, into the real estate business, Paul hasn’t put aside his passion for food. Since co-founding The Zweben Team at Douglas Elliman Realty in 2007, he has seasoned his real estate marketing with culinary content, from posting recipes and reviews on the team’s “Hungry Domaine” blog to talking with chef and business partner Laurent Tourondel.

Recently, Paul has begun blending food and real estate in a new series of videos on Kittch, a new platform for livestreamed cooking demos.

“I’m in different homes all the time for work, so I figured, what if I do a tour of the apartment, and then end up in the kitchen and show people how to cook a quick dish?” said Paul, who shoots videos in his own kitchen, as well. “I want to create more content that’s appealing to a lot of different people. I want to talk about real experiences, kids and food—which, of course, was my background for many years. It’s great to get more eyes on what we do while showcasing a beautiful apartment and cooking a meal in a few minutes.”

Carolyn Zweben

As Carolyn recalls, Paul began making the videos as a way to connect with friends and clients during the isolating early days of the pandemic. They not only draw on his restaurant experience—both the “back of house” responsibilities of the kitchen and the “front of house” interaction with customers—she says, they also reflect the couple’s shared love for hosting and entertaining that informs their “full service” approach to real estate.

Yes, Chef!

“It’s about providing a recipe and showing people how to do something, but also entertaining them and giving them an experience,” she said. “That’s really what we try to do with real estate, too. It’s about the whole experience.”

“One of our main goals at the restaurants was to never let anyone leave the restaurant unhappy,” Paul added. “I’ve brought this concept over to being a real estate agent, in addition to customer service skills and communicating with people.”

Indeed, the Zweben’s shared dedication to hospitality and the client experience makes for harmonious partnerships in both marriage and business.

“Ninety-seven percent of the time, it’s absolutely incredible—we are like yin and yang,” Paul said of working with his Carolyn, adding with a laugh. “Three percent of the time, it’s World War III!”

And when it comes to being on the receiving end of her husband’s culinary creations, Carolyn is a satisfied customer. “He makes a cioppino that is to die for,” she said. “And no one makes a better steak.” (Watch Paul cook cioppino from the kitchen of 15 Hudson Yards, Apt. 71F.)

As for Paul’s grandmother, she eventually came around to supporting his career choice.

“She was a piece of work,” he said. “But she did change her mind. She really motivated me to get my nose to the ground and work hard.”

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