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Chef Paul Smith overcomes addiction, named 2023 Gazette-Mail West Virginian of the Year

By Maria Young, Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Chef Paul Smith’s career was already on a gentle upward slope a few years ago when it suddenly took a sharp turn toward the skies.

The Mountain State native partnered in and opened three restaurants in three years. He raised his profile through such notable gigs as the Metro Valley Chef Ambassador for the West Virginia Division of Tourism and market chef at Capitol Market.

He helped support the culinary community through shining a light on local eateries struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic, creating the popular Eat Local WV Facebook group and purchasing “Taste West Virginia” magazine.

“I am not happy unless I’m going 100 miles an hour with my hair on fire,” he said recently.

The pinnacle of Smith’s ascent was achieved earlier this year, when he was selected as a finalist in the Best Chef: Southeast category of the elite 2023 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards.

But his journey to the top of the West Virginia culinary world began with a single step taken just over 1,500 days ago — on Oct. 26, 2019.

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