Chef Chat: Aaron May of Lettuce Turnip Beets Restaurants

DIGITAL -- 13429 -- fd-chefstable -- Portrait of Head Chef Aaron May (cq) / taken at Sol y Sombra at the DC Ranch Marketplace on Pima Rd and Thompson Peak Parkway. Photo By Wes Johnson / The Arizona Republic (3/7/07 At tapas tastings at Sol y Sombra in Scottsdale, diners sign up to eat whatever chef Aaron May sends, or pours out) (4/5/07 Mug: Valley's fickle taste discouraging to chefs: Other Valley chefs, such as Aaron May, are rising in the culinary world) (8/15/07 Chef Aaron May at Sol y Sombra restaurant, which is offering a paella deal on Thursday nights)

Get to know Aaron May, executive chef and owner of Lettuce Turnip Beets Restaurants: The Yacht Club, The Lodge Sasquatch Kitchen, Goodwood Tavern and Over Easy.

How did you get your start in the culinary world? 

All my life, I wanted to be in the kitchen and when I was a child, I was so fascinated by cooking and had a sophisticated palate for my age. As a toddler, I used to order Perrier and green noodles at Dave’s Italian Kitchen in Evanston, Illinois before I could even talk. My passion for cooking led me to culinary training at the age of 15 which continued in Paris and New York City- a breadth of experience that has shaped the way I cook today.

What is your favorite memory in the kitchen?

There are so many!  The smells are really what brings memories to life in the kitchen. Bread proofing, sweet cinnamon, roasting meats, all evoke special times and places for me.

What ingredients should at-home chefs experience with this winter?

Persimmons probably deserve more love from home cooks, they are a great substitute for apples, pears or quince- heirloom grains are great too, very forgiving for a home cook, but they can sure deliver flavor!

Any holiday cooking tips for at-home chefs?

Proper planning! Cooking is so much easier with a game plan.  Make sure you have everything you need and walk through the steps ahead of time to eliminate any surprises.

What are your goals for the new year? 

Mostly just keep working on being a better person.  As I get older I always try and read more, complain less, do more traveling and keep working on the restaurants.

Tell us about your newest concept, The Yacht Club?

Nestled in the heart of Arcadia, this nautical inspired restaurant is reminiscent of your favorite surf side retreat. We really tried to transport people there with the ambiance.  Peter Bowden who designed it, really did a ton of searching for the right prices to make it feel authentic.  We try and keep it casual and neighborhood friendly, and serve the freshest seafood, humanely raised meats and delicious seasonal produce in town.  Come check us out!

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