Chef and Owner, Triangulo Restaurant Group
Chef Paul Canales is a noted authority on the cooking of the Mediterranean, an award-winning and highly acclaimed chef that has helmed some of the Bay Area’s most loved restaurants. Exhibiting prowess in French, Spanish, Basque and Italian cooking, Paul combines a passion for improvisation with rigorous study and technique, adapting traditional recipes for local ingredients and modern culinary innovations.
As the chef and owner of Triangulo Restaurant Group, Paul is at the helm of Duende, Uptown Oakland’s destination for Spanish-Basque tapas and paella for nearly a decade, and the chef behind the new Southern-French inspired Occitania. He works closely with local farmers and purveyors to highlight the best local and sustainable ingredients, and practices whole animal butchery, based on a rich culinary tradition to preserve every part of the animal so nothing goes to waste.
Before he found his calling in the kitchen, Paul graduated from California State University in his hometown of Fresno, Calif., where he studied literature, philosophy, political science and history. After college, Paul traveled to Italy, England and Taiwan, eventually landing in Washington D.C. where he served as a congressional intern. It wasn’t long before Paul returned to California, joining the Accelerated Management Program at Pacific Bell in San Francisco where he quickly rose through the ranks in sales, marketing, and strategic business planning, all while completing further studies at Stanford University’s Sloan Program for rising business executives.
A relentless creative, Paul left the corporate world after eight years, enrolling in the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, where he studied and worked under some the country’s most notable classically trained French chefs including: Louis Fessy of Four Seasons, Roland Chenus of Le Pavilion, Le Cote Basque, and Le Chantilly, and Andre Soltner of Lutece. This training gave Paul deep roots into classical culinary tradition and techniques; but it was at Oliveto Restaurant & Café, in Oakland, Calif. in 1998 where he gained a deep reverence for the Bay Area’s agricultural bounty, seasonality and the incredible depth of regional Italian cuisine.
Paul joined Oliveto first during a school internship and then again after graduating, succeeding Paul Bertoli as Executive Chef in 2004 and transitioning the restaurant from “signature dishes” to daily changing menus based on farmers markets and whole animal butchery. Under his leadership, Oliveto earned national recognition for such innovative menus and programs as the Oceanic or Tomato Dinners or special events featuring whole beef, risotto, the cuisine of ancient Rome, or specific Italian regions.
His dedication to collaboration, and his transformative genius with culinary traditions and ingredients, form the core of his work ethic—in the kitchen and beyond. Each restaurant is a reflection of a broader community, highlighting local artists or offering cultural events in the restaurant space. Always eager to learn more and to inspire, Paul surrounds himself with artists and musicians, always taking the time to share with his team valuable lessons that may serve them further down the line.
His laser focus on the essence of the dining experience inspired international food author Marcella Hazan to write, “Paul Canales has found and taken unfailing command of what everyone who cooks struggles to discover: the straight road to pure, sincere, deeply satisfying flavor.”