I met Michael Paddock for the first time roughly 13 years ago through mutual friends who were all into hardcore, skating and snowboards. At the time, he was a vegan, straightedge design major at the College of Saint Rose with a reputation for legendary — and, sorry, unprintable — practical jokes.
But after catching up for the first time in more than a decade, its clear Paddock has refined some of his tastes. These days he’s living in Waterbury, Vt., working as the Art Director for Rome Snowboards and, in addition to breaking his veg pact, he’s cultivated a sincere passion for cooking après shred.
“I’ve been with Rome for nine years, I think,” says Paddock over Skype, rubbing his eyes with his hands, as if trying to clear his memory. He tells me that after graduating from college with a degree in design and a minor in photography, he decided to move to Mammouth to snowboard and take photos with some friends — because who wouldn’t want to do that?
A short time after, Paddock linked up with Rome, then in its infancy. “I shot their team riders as a contract photographer for two years, spending my winters in Mammoth and my summers in Brooklyn,” he explained. Then one summer Paddock created a board graphic and submitted it to his colleagues, which they liked and used. When a full-time position opened up, he applied and ultimately moved to Waterbury, Vt., where the Rome headquarters are located.
“Since then, I’ve done a little bit of everything on the marketing side from photography to team management and now art direction,” he says. “It was kind of a natural fit for me.”
Paddock credits that pivotal move to Vermont with unearthing his inner chef. “That’s when I really started to teach myself,” he said. “I bought a few cookbooks like Bourdain’s Les Halles and I just started trying to make these things I was eating in restaurants that I really liked.”
Before long, he became his friends’ go-to gourmand after a day on the mountain. In fact, last month at Jackson Hole he arrived with not only his board in tow, but also his chef’s knife from home.
“I’ve learned, in traveling, that everyone always asks me to cook,” he said. “And I’m fine with that. I enjoy that. But when you rent a condo somewhere, the kitchen tools are meager at best. So I just wrap up my knife and put it in my luggage.”
The first night in Jackson Hole, he made stuffed tenderloin with roasted garlic and bacon. “You wrap it all up, sear it, throw it in the oven for a little while and then finish it with a simple pan sauce,” he said. “I made that, roasted some beets, and sautéed vegetables. That style of French brasserie cooking is what really got me into cooking because it’s all about simple ingredients, traditionally hyper local, and you’re able to make these amazing meals.”
Indeed. A compulsory glance at his recent tweets finds Paddock as apt to upload a shot of “Earnedturns” or catching a “golden hour in the Tetons” as showing off a “First attempt at making some quick pickles. Roasted garlic, caraway, crushed red pepper and cinnamon” or my personal favorite: “Made Thomas Keller’s ‘bacon and eggs’ yesterday. Pretty hyped on how it came out.”
And the food documentation doesn’t end there. After running into longtime friends Craig Wetherby and Tim Brodhagen from creative agency The Good Life (their clients include Burton Snowboards and New York’s Meatball Shop) at a snowboarding trade show, the trio bonded over a shared love of group dining.
“Craig was the first person to publish my snowboarding photos when I was still in college,” says Paddock. “But their interests vary widely, just like mine.” The conversation ultimately ended with Wetherby and Brodhagen asking Paddock to begin writing and photographing his home recipes for the company’s site.
While that might sound like a second job to some, for Paddock it’s proved relaxing.
“To come home and cook is like therapy for me,” he says with a sigh. “It’s creative, but it’s a completely different spectrum from designing snowboard graphics. And documenting it kind of ties it all together for me. It’s everything I like, y’know?”
Yeah, we know.