He's a professional cook with long, luscious locks and an apartment in Paris, so Kiwi-Fijian hunk Paul Patterson was always going to be a top contender to steal the heart of The Bachelorette NZ's Lexie Brown.
And the fact both avid travellers have been brought home to Aotearoa by the global pandemic has given them even more to bond over, with Paul's plans to open a restaurant in New York scuttled and the former ski instructor, 31, losing her job in Canada.
"I've got feelings happening," the Waiheke Island resident, 35, confesses to Woman's Day. "It's not what I expected. My dream girl is someone who can run amok and keep up with me, but is also happy to sit back and watch the world go by – and Lexie very much fits the bill."
Mentored by top Kiwi chef Nick Honeyman, Paul has spent the past seven years making a name for himself in the cut-throat culinary world of the French capital and was on a brief visit back to Auckland before opening his bistro in Brooklyn when COVID-19 struck.
"I had to pull the pin on the dream and take a big financial hit," he says. "I wasn't happy about it. It's been a hard six months trying to get my head around it. I was excited about the New York opportunity and having a new city to explore. I felt like I was starting again.
"I thought I'd be home for a couple of months, but now it's been a year and it'll probably be another year. It's the break I never wanted but actually needed. I'd been working like crazy in Paris, running six restaurants at one time and doing 40- to 60-hour weeks in the kitchen."
Now working as a drainlayer while consulting on a new Auckland restaurant and planning some pop-up barbecue events, Paul had previously pooh-poohed the idea of moving back to New Zealand, but he admits, "I've since realised how lucky we are in this country and I can definitely see myself settling back home. However, I'd need something overseas to go back to every year. Paris will always be a part of me."
Indeed, in the very first episode of The Bachelorette, he introduces himself by giving Lexie a key to his apartment in the 6th arrondisement, near the Louvre. Paul laughs, "I came in hot! She could've either thought I was an absolute cocky idiot or been really stoked, which she was. Hopefully it works out. I'm playing the long game."
And he's got some big-name cheerleaders in the shape of actresses Danielle Cormack and Claire Chitham, plus All Blacks legend and fellow Fijian Joe Rokocoko.
Paul tells us, "I met Danielle in Ponsonby one night and we became thick as thieves. She introduced me to Claire, who came to see me twice in Paris. I phone her for support whenever I need it and she's helped me through everything. They're both lovely humans, as is Joe. We met in Paris and his family know mine. I was just talking to him yesterday as it's snowing in France and he's gotta be outside playing rugby!"
- RoyalsPrincess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank have revealed the name of their son
Now To LoveFeb 21, 2021
- RoyalsPrince Harry and Duchess Meghan are having another baby!
Now To LoveFeb 15, 2021
- RoyalsPrincess Eugenie & husband Jack Brooksbank have welcomed their first child
Now To LoveFeb 10, 2021
- TVThe Bachelorette NZ's Paul Patterson: 'I'm cooking up romance'
Woman's DayFeb 03, 2021
- MindBeating the bottle: My party girl life was killing me
New Zealand Woman's WeeklyJan 25, 2021
- TVOur broody Bachelorette: 'David Attenborough is my dream man'
Woman's DayJan 20, 2021
- Celebrity NewsJay-Jay Feeney and Paul Flynn: our perfect friendship
Woman's DayJan 08, 2021
- CompetitionsWin a double pass to our exclusive screening of Penguin Bloom
New Zealand Woman's WeeklyDec 27, 2020