Chef Aaron Arko – USA

Portland, Oregon, United States

Name: Chef Aaron Arko
Age: 42
Nationality: American
Country of Residence: USA

1. Your Restaurant/Business: DEN at Portland Marriott City Center, Portland, Oregon, USA

2. About Your Kitchen: Clean, functional, organized and ready to serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, room service and banquet functions 365 days a year.

3. Your Favorite Chef Works Item: I’ve been wearing the Palermo Executive Chef Coat for the last 5 years. Once I put on a chef coat with short sleeves, I’ve never looked back. It’s the ultimate in functionality and comfort.

4. First Job: As a pantry cook in 1993 at an upscale restaurant in La Jolla, California. I’ve held just about every other kitchen position since…

5. Your Favorite Cookbook: I’m glad you asked. It’s in the works, do you know a good publisher?

6. Your Awards: Several awards while working for Hilton hotels over the course of 13 years. Now with the Marriott brand, I’ve recently won the leadership of the quarter award for the 4th quarter of 2014.

7. Your Cooking Inspiration: Julia Child.

8. Your Speciality Dish: Honestly, anything. You name it, I’ll cook it. If I don’t get it right the first time, I won’t stop until I do.

9. Favorite Dish To Eat: A traditional American steakhouse dinner is my go-to meal. Some chilled oysters to start, a big bone-in rib eye with classic Bearnaise and a side of creamed spinach. A nice bold Cabernet from Oregon wine country to wash it down.

10. Weirdest Thing You Ever Ate:  In 1997 I was introduced to Japanese Furikake seasoning. It’s basically dried & ground fish & seaweed. We had a Furikake crusted Ahi tuna on our menu. I thought it was very weird at the time. Now I love it.

11. Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Mint Chip. No question about it, nothing comes close.

12. Favorite Drink: All local. Deschutes Chainbreaker White IPA (Indian Pale Ale), Bridgeport IPA, Hopworks IPA, Rogue Farms 7 hop IPA. (Did I mention I live in Portland??)

13. Favorite Wine: Currently it would have to be the Erath Winery Pinot Noir. Oregon’s wine country in the Willamette Valley is known for its world class Pinot Noir.

14. Who Would You Most Like To Cook For: You. And you. And you. Come on in, we’re open…

15. Who Would You Least Like To Cook For: This is a trick question, right? I’ll cook for anyone…

16. Favorite Things To Do When Not Cooking: I spend a lot of time outdoors up here in Oregon. Between the mountains, rivers, beaches and waterfalls, you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t get out and explore.

17. Your Latest Project:  We just wrapped up another Portland Dining Month. About 100 restaurants participate each year and it’s a lot of fun. Everyone offers a 3 course meal for $29 for the entire month of March. It was quite busy, to say the least!

18. Favorite City and Why: Portland! See my answers to 12, 13, 16 and 17 as to why.

19. Your Greatest Indulgence: All you can eat buffets in Las Vegas. Every time I go, I turn it into an event. I’ll stay for 2 or 3 hours in one sitting, until every last offering has been sampled. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it…

20. Your All Time Best Culinary Tip: As a chef, don’t let the criticism bring you down, and don’t let the compliments bring you too far up. Take it all in moderation, because you’re going to receive plenty of both!

Photo by: Bill Wright

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