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!"
- RoyalsPrince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, has died aged 99
Now To LoveApr 09, 2021
- TVPopstars panel tells all: Rock regrets, secret crushes and dad jokes!
Woman's DayApr 09, 2021
- Celebrity NewsIron Mike's magic milestone: 'I'm finally in a good space!'
Woman's DayApr 07, 2021
- TVBachelorettes' show down: Our last-ditch effort to woo Moses
Woman's DayMar 30, 2021
- TVBachelor babes bare all: 'Our lives have changed forever'
Woman's DayMar 29, 2021
- Celebrity NewsSmitten but sleep-deprived! Sam Wallace and fiancée Sarah are on double duty
New Zealand Woman's WeeklyMar 26, 2021
- Celebrity NewsKiwi stunt star Zoë Bell talks brain injuries and break-ups
Woman's DayMar 24, 2021
- TVThe Bachelorette NZ's Lexie and Hamish are moving in together!
Woman's DayMar 11, 2021
- TVHit single Moses: 'I didn't think I deserved love!'
Woman's DayMar 09, 2021
- TVHere are the queens competing in RuPaul's Drag Race Down Under
Now To LoveMar 07, 2021