Head Butcher – Aaron
Aaron’s culinary career began at age twelve when he realized that if he wanted a car when he turned sixteen, he had to start making some money. So, he got a job as a dishwasher at his grandparents’ favorite eating establishment. He moved his way up to a busser position and then into the kitchen as a prep cook. At the age of 16, he was a trained line cook.
When Aaron entered vocational high school, he had to decide if he wanted to study auto mechanics or culinary arts. After hemming and hawing at great length, he opted to study culinary arts. His Senior year, he won a national cooking competition in Florida. The reward was a full scholarship to attend The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.
While attending the Culinary Institute of America, Aaron had the opportunity to intern at Oliveto, an Italian Restaurant located in Oakland, California. After completing his 6 month internship, he was offered a full-time job at the restaurant once he graduated from the CIA.
In 2002, after graduating from the CIA, Aaron worked in New York City at Le Bernadin under the tutelage of Eric Ripert. It was here that Aaron learned about how to be a member of a well-coordinated team and how to create smooth
systems for executing five-star food every night. Aaron then moved on to Tangerine and Buddakan (both Steven Starr restaurants) in Philadelphia where he learned how to cook at two very fast paced, large volume restaurants. All the while, he was trying to save up money to move out to California so he could return to Oliveto.
Finally, in 2003, he made the move to Oliveto in Oakland where he worked for four years, first as a line cook and ultimately as a sous chef. It was here that Aaron developed his true cooking style and was able to fine tune it on a nightly basis. Here he also learned how to butcher whole animals and craft salumi, pate and pasta by hand under the leadership of Paul Bertolli and later Paul Canales. Aaron began to understand what is meant to cook “head to tail” as well as how a restaurant could fit into a larger community of farmers and producers. Aaron created relationships and friendships with farmers while at Oliveto that he maintains to this day. (He also met his wife at Oliveto!)
Next was Chez Panisse. Aaron was hired as one of four cooks in the famous restaurant in 2007. Chez Panisse Restaurant offers diners a five-star dining experience that features a prix fixe menu that changes nightly. While the outline of the menu is set by the executive chef, Aaron was given liberty to personalize the dish and make it in his own way, essentially filling the role of a sous-chef in any other restaurant. A strong connection to the farmers is a central part of the Restaurant’s philosophy and by being exposed to that connection on a daily basis, Aaron came to understand what sustainable food means and how supporting sustainable farmers and serving locally raised food can positively impact the community and the environment. At Chez Panisse, Aaron continued to butcher
whole animals and build lasting relationships with farmers and producers. Aaron was chosen by Chez Panisse to represent the Restaurant at Slow Food’s Terra Madre event in Torino, Italy as well as at the Monterey Bay Aquarium’ s Sustainable Fish event.
Aaron also worked at the butcher counter at Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco as well as at the Café Rouge butcher counter before opening The Local Butcher Shop in August of 2011.
Random Facts about Aaron:
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Mint Chip
Favorite color: Orange
Favorite Cuisine: Italian
Dogs or Cats? Dogs
Astrological Sign: Virgo