Hayfields Market head chef Paul Gileno wants to cater your next event.


Paul Gileno is the events catering chef for Hayfields Market in North Salem. (Benjamin Allen / HudValley Photo)

When Paul Gileno stepped out of his Bronx home at the age of 13 in search of work, his only consideration was finding a place close enough to walk to. He had no way to know that working at the Marina Del Rey catering hall in Throgs Neck would set him on a path to becoming the person people in Northern Westchester and Fairfield counties call when planning to celebrate their most significant life moments.

Today, Gileno is the head chef for Hayfields Market. There, he is responsible for the menus for the cafe as well as for all catering services, which represents a significant and growing portion of Hayfields business. His path to Hayfields was paved by a lifelong passion for food and hospitality, an enduring work ethic, and just the right amount of serendipity.

Gileno, the oldest of seven children, grew up in an Italian American family. His early experiences at home and at Marina Del Rey gave him a solid background in cooking for crowds and delivering personalized service. From there, Gileno was drawn to the high adrenaline, high-pressure Manhattan restaurant scene. He racked up experience at well-known establishments throughout the city before eventually tiring of the grind. “In New York City you’re cooking until 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning, then you go out with an adrenaline high and stay out until 4:00 a.m. After fifteen years it starts to eat away at you,” Gileno said.

After exiting the Manhattan restaurant world, Gileno moved on to run A+S Fine Foods of Stamford, a high-end retail food store in Stamford, Connecticut that specializes in seasonal, holiday and customizable catering services. There, he found a better work-life balance and experiences that would prepare him for his next act.

By 2018, Gileno was living in Brewster and occasionally driving through North Salem en route to Ridgefield. Passing Hayfields one day, he noticed a help wanted sign for managers and catering staff, and stopped in. Owner Renea Dayton hired Gileno to help grow Hayfields’ catering business.

At Hayfields, Gileno has been working to transform the market into a food destination. While Hayfields is known for daytime staples like breakfast burritos, smoothies, crowd favorite ‘Fricken Chicken’ sandwiches and healthy salads, Gileno has quietly focused on expanding the store’s catering capacity. While events took a significant hit during COVID, as vaccines became available and restrictions eased, business exploded. Hayfields events, both on property and off, are now booking out into next year.

Hayfields catered events can range from a black-tie formal multi-course dinner to a daytime backyard barbecue. (Benjamin Allen / HudValley Photo)

“Chef Paul has been an incredible addition to our team,” Dayton said. “Whether it’s a large catered event, a luncheon at the cafe or in-home private dinner parties, he brings a level of quality and passion that we were missing.”

Gileno said that as a chef he thrives on the variety that catering jobs bring. “With catering and events, it’s different every time. The location, the food, the clients, the needs. It’s this wonderful challenge of a new experience every time,” he said. “That’s what makes it unique for me.”

Hayfields catered events are all about customization. “It’s always going to be unique and different because each person is different as far as what they want to see,” he explained. The first thing he does when working with clients is to ask them to share what they envision. That vision could be anything from a black-tie formal multi-course dinner to a daytime backyard barbecue. “I want to be the caterer to all,” said Gileno, who provided catering to the staff at the Jennifer Gates-Nayel Nassar wedding in North Salem last October. “A Hayfields event kind of fits in every category.”

Hayfields offers catered events at just about any venue. (Benjamin Allen / HudValley Photo)

Gileno has found particular joy in becoming the caterer people consistently turn to for their major life celebrations. “It’s one of the best feelings as a caterer,” he said. “You’re really doing something that’s a big deal – a wedding, birthday, communion, anniversary. It’s a good time, and you’re part of their celebration.” In 2018, Gileno catered a local couple’s engagement party. The following year, the couple tapped Gileno again to cater their wedding rehearsal dinner. Just recently they were back in touch. They were having a baby shower, and who else to cater it than Chef Paul?

Next up for Gileno is launching a Hayfields Market food trailer. Due to arrive within the next two months, the still-to-be-named trailer will provide an additional way for Hayfields to deliver its signature catering to local events. He is already busy putting together a menu designed specifically for the trailer and promised it would be “fun, unique food.”

Chef Paul Gileno outside Hayfields Market in North Salem. (Benjamin Allen / HudValley Photo)

Dayton said that she’s grateful to work with a chef who genuinely enjoys the whole process of catering from start to finish, from procuring and preparing to cooking and serving. “I’m always excited to see what Chef Paul is creating in the kitchen.”

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