Born in Pusan, South Korea, and adopted shortly after, Chef Frederick Despres grew up in Westport, Connecticut. During a considerable amount of worldly travel with his family at a young age, Despres experienced many flavors and cuisines, taking an interest in the culinary world. On a trip to France at the age sixteen, Despres enrolled in a cooking course with a focus on fish at Le Cordon Bleu Paris. Although an all-around scholastic athlete and classically-trained violinist since the age five, after studying music and economics at Lake Forest College, Despres decided to fully dedicate himself to his love of food and the restaurant business.
Despres attended The French Culinary Institute of New York City and immersed himself in learning classic French cooking technique while broadening his horizons at the school’s own restaurant L’ecole. From there, Despres moved on to Oceana, a renowned Michelin-starred seafood restaurant in the heart of Manhattan.
With deep family roots in Chicago’s architectural and political history, Despres returned to Chicago, working under Chef Takashi Yagihashi at the acclaimed Michelin-starred restaurant Takashi. Despres developed his love for Japanese and Asian cuisines there as well as meeting his wife Lisa, a chef working under Chef Rick Bayless of Frontera/Topolobampo. Despres helped open Slurping Turtle, AramiGo!, but for the past two years, calls Arami home. Focusing on traditional Japanese dishes and incorporating other worldly flavors and technique into the food, Despres creates elegant dishes as seen on Arami’s modern and diverse menu.