Chef News

Aaron Chamberlin Dishes on Daniel Boulud, Jean-Georges and What He Learned at LGO

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Name a culinary mentor and explain what you learned from that person: When I worked for Michel Richard, he told me that it takes 20 years [to be ready] to open your own restaurant. Twenty years after he told me that, I opened St. Francis.

What advice would you give an aspiring chef?: I'd say what Michel Richard said to me: Put your head down for 20 years. Learn the craft!

Weirdest thing you ever ate: Steak with dirt on it. It fell off the grill, and I was hungry.

The media has made stars of chefs and now farmers. Good thing or bad thing?: It's a great thing! These are the people feeding us, our communities, which, to me, is a very serious job.

You have worked for some really big names in the industry, including Daniel Boulud. What was that like?: They ate me for lunch. I worked there 28 days and 28 days I walked home in tears. I was in way over my head.

So what happened?: I called Michel, who called his friends and I worked all over New York -- Park Avenue Café, Aureole, Vong. Jean-Georges [Vongerichten] and his people were really nice. It was a whole different ballgame. He was really savvy.

In what way?: When you work for Jean-Georges, you get a recipe book. Most restaurants are run free-style, but he was very structured, he had systems: "Be a robot and if you're a good robot, one day you'll have your own robots."

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Nikki Buchanan