Detroit native Aaron Cuschieri joins Chicago’s Kinmont restaurant as Executive Chef, merging well-honed fine dining techniques with a genuine, unpretentious appreciation for food and the experience of dining. Less than a decade into the industry, Chef Cuschieri has already been recognized by Zagat’s “30 Under 30” roundup (2013) and Eater’s “Young Guns” list (2012) and has appeared on Season 11 of Bravo’s popular Top Chef (New Orleans, 2013).
After touring the country as a drummer in a rock band, Cuschieri realized that, while he’d always be passionate about music, he was ready to retire drum sticks for kitchen knives, turning his “favorite hobby into his job,” advice gleaned from his father’s time-honored recipe for happiness. The then-24 year old, whose every memorable life experience had revolved around food and cooking, enrolled in culinary school at the Art Institute of Michigan. During that time, he staged at Detroit restaurants ranging from casino kitchens to fine dining establishments, spending time most notably at Assaggi Bistro, where he turned a sous chef job into an Executive Chef position in just one year.
Recognizing the fuel traveling had given to his musical creativity, Cuschieri decided to apply that method to his cooking and take a wider survey of the national dining scene. He staged and eventually received a position at Chicago’s acclaimed Alinea, a time period he credits as a crash course in the finesse of fine dining. Cuschieri then struck up a long-lasting relationship with Chicago chef Takashi Yagihashi. This talented mentor tapped Cuschieri for a chef de cuisine position at Takashi restaurant eventually leading to an Executive Chef position at Slurping Turtle, Takashi’s casual ramen concept in Chicago’s River North neighborhood, which opened in 2011. During his four years at Slurping Turtle, Cuschieri traveled to New York, New Orleans and Los Angeles. He developed a deep appreciation for the soul and passion of street food as well as a keen sense for the business side of the restaurant industry. Now in 2015, Cuschieri takes the helm at Kinmont.
At Kinmont, Cuschieri is eager to extend the “Field & Stream” ethos of the dining room even further within the kitchen itself. He plans to place more attention on letting the natural fish flavors of the restaurant’s sustainable seafood selections shine, in both raw and cooked varieties, while also bringing on wild game options such as pheasant and quail. New ideas will circulate for pushing the boundaries in both ingredients and preparation — the kitchen will explore a wider variety of new-school and old-school cooking methods and will reinvent a more eclectic menu with items like a new, fish-focused charcuterie board. Cuschieri is excited to explore the vast range of possibilities this unique concept presents while also utilizing the bounty of offerings right within his native Midwest. ;