Interview with Chef Noah Bekofsky of Aria - Chicago

December, 2005

Antoinette Bruno: Why did you start cooking? What or who inspired you to become a chef?
Noah Bekofsky: I grew up in a macrobiotic household. We grew our own wheat to grind into our own flour. When I was 14 years old I started bussing.

AB: Did you attend culinary school? Would you recommend culinary school to aspiring chefs today?
NB: I went to the CIA. Yes, I would recommend culinary school to young chefs. You get out of culinary school what you put into it.

AB: Who are your mentors? What are some of the most important things you’ve learned from them?
NB: Mark Ehrler from the Loews Miami Beach Hotel for overall quality of food and his presence in the kitchen. He was very demanding. He always made the quest for the highest quality. However, he still laughed and joked. You knew what his expectations were.

AB: What is your philosophy on food and dining?
NB: Food needs to have great flavor. Dining needs to be fun, and the diner needs to have a great memory of the meal.

AB: Are there any secret or underappreciated ingredients that you especially like?
NB: I like basic herbs such as tarragon and mint – they bring out a whole different dimension. Also, avocados are totally versatile and have a subtlety that can be used in vinaigrette to add depth and fat.

AB: What is your most indispensable kitchen tool? Why?
NB: A wooden spoon, because so much of cooking involves stirring and tasting.

AB: Is there a culinary technique that you have either created or use in an unusual way?
NB: I enjoy slow roasting and poaching.