Former Bad Company bassist Paul Cullen combines his musical talents with passion for good food and wine on the Eastern Shore
On nights when he’s not entertaining crowds across the Eastern Shore with the smooth sounds of his guitar, you can generally find musician Paul Cullen doing any of three things – making a mouth-watering meal for his wife, Bonnie, and himself, partaking in a magnificent glass of wine or listening to great music – and often it’s all of the above. For Paul, the former bass guitarist of the world-renowned group Bad Company, a relaxing evening with his beautiful bride in their handsomely appointed Millsboro, Del. home is far more enjoyable than performing in front of 20,000 adoring fans.
“This is what we do when we I have a night off,” Paul said. “We’ll have friends over for dinner or it will just be Bonnie and me. We’ll have a good meal, drink some good wine, listen to cool music and just hang out. It’s our getaway.”
Paul has been cooking since the age of 6 when his mother and grandmother first brought him into the kitchen to begin imparting their vast culinary wisdom on him. His love of good, homemade food began much earlier – at the age of 6 months – when his grandmother fed him her hand prepared pasta to the chagrin of his mom, of course.
“My passion for cooking comes directly from them,” Paul said. “I was the oldest of 30 cousins on the Italian side of our family, and my grandmother and I were very close because I was the oldest.”
His culinary talents are so impressive that he recently personally catered an outdoor party for 60 people.
“I’ll cook for 6, 10 or 50 people – whatever it takes,” Paul said. “It’s sometimes stressful, but I am never stressed out. I enjoy it. The stressful part is making sure everything comes out on time.”
Music and cooking share a similar characteristic for Cullen, who explained that the rhythm of playing an instrument is beneficial while performing multiple tasks simultaneously in the kitchen.
“They play off one another,” he said. “For example, when I start my risotto from scratch, I am doing everything else for the meal while that is cooking, so timing is very important in the kitchen. I am a stickler for eating food while it’s hot. That’s how it’s supposed to be so, when I cook, it comes right out of the pan to the plate to the table – that is very important. For me, serving the meal hot to my guests is my main objective – and of course, its being good too!”
Amazingly, for as accomplished a musician as he is, Paul didn’t pick up a guitar until the age 20. Yet, within just nine years, he had earned a spot in one of the world’s most popular rock bands. Paul explained that when he becomes passionate about something, he embraces it wholeheartedly and spends countless hours studying, practicing and refining the skills it takes to excel in the field. After an innocent introduction to red wine while touring with Bad Company, Paul’s thirst for knowledge on the topic has grown exponentially.
“Our guitar player turned me onto Chateauneuf du Pape (the most famous wine from France’s Rhone Valley). I had never had red wine up to that point – well, I did, but it was out of the jug from my grandfather’s stash or something.
“It continued when I moved here. Bonnie and I used to go to Tutto Bene (a great Italian restaurant where Paul proposed to Bonnie) and we started drinking (Francis Ford) Coppola Merlot. She started to enjoy it. I began to enjoy it even more, and before we knew it, we were trying different wines with dinner. We really dove right in and tried to learn as much about each wine as we could – and it hasn’t stopped today.”
By day, Paul also has a pretty good gig lined up as the regional wine representative for Porto Vino labels and Nicola Vindetti – the visionary Italian winemaker whose varietals are quickly garnering popularity here in the States thanks to its exceptional selection of
flavors and certified organic makeup.
“I always had the idea that music and wine would work together, which is where “Unplugged and Uncorked” (Paul’s clever term coined to jointly market the marriage of his passions) was born,” he said. “Now I have the ultimate job because my boss really believes in that too, and we’re going to use it to our fullest potential to promote the company’s wine marketing-wise.”
This fall, Paul will be playing a series of Unplugged and Uncorked parties that combine good food, wine and music. He’ll also be appearing most Wednesdays-Sundays along the Shore, including the Back Porch Café in Rehoboth Beach and Beseme Bistro in Lewes. For more details on his schedule, or to download some of his latest songs, visit Paul’s website.