By Leva levitra
Friday May 24, 2013 | May 2013 Issue
© Chester Simpson.com
Chef Aaron Baxendale with his Roasted Pouisson with Succotash & Chicken Confit Red Pepper Coulis
Old Hickory Steakhouse
Gaylord National Resort
National Harbor, MD
When did you first become interested in cooking and what prompted you to pursue a culinary career?
I first became interested in cooking when I was young. Being from a family of 7, my Mom would cook family meals every night. I would be the one in the kitchen helping her prepare and getting everything ready. I always liked it, but I didn’t decide to pursue a career in the culinary field until I was 21. To be honest, it was a fall-back after I left college, and it was probably the best decision I have ever made.
Who have been the biggest inspirations for your career?
My biggest inspirations have not been chefs I have worked for, but chefs I have worked with. When I was doing my apprenticeship at the Greenbrier Resort, I was inspired by the other apprentices. It was a healthy competition and the inspiration was learning with other people who cared about food and cooking. It is the people around me that inspire me.
What are some of the qualities that you feel a successful chef should have?
A successful chef should be able to inspire those around them. It doesn’t matter how good a cook you are, without your staff and team looking up to you and respecting you, success will never come. A successful chef should be a teacher first and foremost.
Another good quality to have is to be humble. Anymore, good chefs/cooks are a dime a dozen, but grounded chefs who work well with others and teach and treat people with respect are rare. Having these traits is truly what makes someone a chef.
What do you enjoy most about your work? What are your greatest stresses?
What I most enjoy about my work is making that personal connection with someone even if you don’t see them, talk to them, etc. Eating is such a personal, subjective experience, and when the food makes someone smile or they get that “that’s delicious” moment, it makes everything worthwhile. On the other hand, that’s my greatest stress. You can make or break someone’s day with a good or bad meal. I am always keeping that in mind with every dish.
If any chef in the world could prepare you a meal, who would it, be?
This is a hard question to answer. With so many good chefs out there doing their thing, it’s hard to choose. But if I would have to pick one, it would be David Kinch of Manresa.
What’s your guilty food pleasure?
Ice-Cream. Always has been and always will be.
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