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Boulud Sud

Aaron Chambers, an English chef trained in the French culinary tradition, readily admits he began his career as an ardent vegetarian, that is until succumbing to the guilty pleasures of a crisp bacon sandwich at age 19. Yet despite almost two meatless decades, Aaron had an early start in the kitchen. By late 2009 Aaron was heading for New York City as sous chef at Café Boulud, Chef Daniel Boulud's Michelin starred restaurant. Today Aaron is Executive Chef at Boulud Sud, Daniel Boulud's new Upper West Side foray into Mediterranean cuisine. He draws on his diverse culinary background preparing a menu with flavors that travels the entire region. "Cooking good food isn't always about re-inventing or re-interpreting. Sometimes it's just about making the classics perfectly," says the talented young chef just voted one of the Zagat Guide's "30 Under 30", spotlighting New York City's up and coming culinary talent.


Boulud Sud


How do you characterize your cuisine?

Simple and good and never over-complicated, no matter what culture it comes from.

What region or ethnicity most influences your cooking?

Boulud Sud takes you on a journey of the entire Mediterranean.

What is your signature dish?

Harissa spiced lamb. I love it for the complexity of the spices and the smooth simplicity of the eggplant. I don't even love lamb that much; it's really the spices that get me.

What kind of food were you exposed to as a child?

I actually began my career as an ardent vegetarian, until succumbing to the guilty pleasures of a crisp bacon sandwich at age 19.

Despite almost two meatless decades, I had an early start in the kitchen. I was born in Yorkshire in the North East of England and was at the stove by age eight, baking scones and pies with my mother.

My family was an important influence, particularly through life on my grandmother's dairy farm. My father also made an impression, lecturing regularly at an agricultural college and sharing his love of country pursuits such as vegetable gardening, bee-keeping, and harvesting raspberries and strawberries, which resulted in wonderful homemade preserves.

Have you ever lived or trained overseas? Where?

Traveling abroad for work is one of the privileges of being a chef. In 2004 I left my native Yorkshire to become chef de partie in Dubai at the five-star Burl Al Arab hotel's seafood restaurant Al Mahara. We cooked with ingredients from around the globe: Pacific Rim fish, Japanese Wagyu beef, and spices from the local souks that would later influence my cooking at Boulud Sud.

My next stop in 2005 would be Washington DC's French-Indian fusion restaurant, Indebleu. Two years later in 2007, I moved to Chef Antoine Westerman's Café du Parc at DC's Willard Intercontinental as sous chef.

Does the design and style of your restaurant evoke a particular place? If so, where?

While clearly a New York City restaurant, Boulud Sud has a Mediterranean feel. The design is inspired by architects such as Le Corbusier and artists like Fernand Léger, both of whom at one time called the Côte d'Azur home.

It's as much mid-20th as early 21st century in character. There's an elegant series of floating ceiling vaults above a light-flooded interior, one third of which is devoted to our bar and lounge area. The dining room is framed by a view into the partially open kitchen on one side, and floor-to-ceiling windows on the other. The interior design includes sunflower-yellow rough plaster walls, yellow-and-gray speckled terrazzo floors, warm pear wood paneling, and a sleek zinc-topped bar.

When you cook for yourself, what do you make?

Having just opened a new restaurant, cooking at home is a pretty rare undertaking. But I do like to grill on my balcony. The last time I did, I made a spiced pork loin seasoned with harissa and a salad of tomatoes from the green market.

What are some trips you've taken for inspiration?

Years ago I visited Greece and Turkey with my family. Little did I know I'd someday be cooking the food I tasted.

What are your thoughts on global cuisine?

At Boulud Sud, we take a global approach to Mediterranean food. Many people are familiar with French, Italian, and Spanish classics, but we travel much further afield in the region, going beyond Western Europe to North Africa and Turkey. Our pastry chef Ghaya Oliveira's Tunisian background has been a real inspiration. You really taste the journey in her desserts.