2013 Carolinas Rising Star Fresh Concept Chef Aaron Siegel of Fiery Ron's Home Team BBQ

2013 Carolinas Rising Star Fresh Concept Chef Aaron Siegel of Fiery Ron's Home Team BBQ
November 2013

Biography

It wasn’t a permanent decamping, but for a certain pivotal time, Atlanta, Georgia native Aaron Siegel left the South for the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York (after completing his studies at the University of Georgia). The stay up north wasn’t permanent; Siegel was in pursuit of food.

After an internship with Chef Kevin Rathbun in Atlanta, Siegel moved to Aspen, Colorado, to work as sous chef at Pinion’s and Cache Cache. He next took his fine-dining skills to Charleston, South Carolina, as executive chef at Blossom Café. Back in his element, Siegel kept his eye out for a space, where he could one day channel his growing love for barbecue.

In fall 2006, Siegel opened Fiery Ron’s Home Team BBQ—combining the best of at least two worlds with a barbecue and blues concept—in nearby West Ashley, and three years later, he and his investors opened a second location on Sullivan’s Island. And in his most recent project, Siegel partnered with The Alley to open Home Team Kitchen in downtown Charleston.

In addition to being featured on the Food Network’s “Heat Seekers,” Fiery Ron’s has racked up accolades, including nods for “Most Life Changing Ribs in America” by Esquire, “Best Rib-Sticking Joint in America” by Southern Living Magazine, and “America’s Tastiest Ribs” by USA Today. And Siegel has remained a dedicated Southern boy.


I Support: Operation Home

www.operationhome.org

Why: There is not a lot of red tape with this organization. Every time we raise money, we can see immediate results. It is a local charity—local people helping local people. It’s awesome, a true grassroots effort. We put in a ton of time we these guys, and we love them!


Interview with Fresh Concept Chef Aaron Siegel of Fiery Ron’s Home Team BBQ – Charleston, SC

Antoinette Bruno: What inspired you to pursue cooking professionally?

Aaron Siegel: I grew up messing around in the kitchen. I started cooking for groups of people in college and really enjoyed it. I didn't start working professionally in kitchens until I was 20. I was an English major at the University of Georgia. Halfway through college, my mom saw my interest in food and offered for me to go to culinary school. I moved up here and cooked at a restaurant in town called Zebo while applying to culinary schools.

I went to CIA and did an internship in California for Kevin Rathbun. I went back to school after my internship with Nalva and finished in fall 1998. I decided to go to Aspen and cooked Pinons. I worked at Cache Cache, a French bistro but more expensive because it was in Aspen. When I came back South, I wanted to open up my own place. I had become interested in barbecue when in I was school and messed around with it. I became executive chef of Blossom, and Craig Deihl let me use the smoker a fair bit. I messed around with ribs and [pork] butts and started looking for real estate. My friend was in real estate and I purchased this property—an old gas station from the 50s with a dirt road out the front. We designed it together; it took 10 months. I was still working at Blossom when I was talking to people about property and funding.

AB: What is the hardest thing you’ve had to do?

AS: The hardest thing I have had to do is manage. Managing and motivating people is a whole different story. My theory is you have to get people to buy into what you're doing and respect you from day one. It is simply the biggest challenge. It all trickles down from there and your food ends up out of your hands. You need that loyalty. The cooking part is easy.

AB: What is your proudest accomplishment?

AS: Creating a team of motivated people—the team I have around me and the family atmosphere. People grow up in your restaurant, get married and have kids.

AB: Who would you consider your mentor?

AS: I would consider Chris from Cache Cache my mentor. I went to school with him. He taught me how to manage people. Chris was born in France. His demeanor, the way he went about his business, and the respect he gained from his employees is how I try to go about my business every day. Another is Kevin Rathbun, who cooks high-end Southwesten dining. He is breaking the rules—cold and hot items, accenting different things, combining classical knowledge and fundamentals with other things. Dean Fearring, too.