Restaurant: The Estes Park Resort
Featured Recipe: Seared Skin Sterling Salmon
Chef Aaron Esserman has a simplistic approach to cooking. Growing up in a Southern family, the Tampa Bay native creates boldly flavored, deeply satisfying dishes. He also shares his exuberant, approachable cooking style with his infectious smile, laughter, and optimism. Classically trained at Johnson and Wales University at both the Denver and Miami campuses, Chef Aaron brings a unique flare to his food. His approach is a perfect combination deriving from South Florida and South West “Gamey” cuisines.
Chef Aaron started his career in Del Ray Beach, FL as head chef of a well known family owned restaurant called Cuggini Grill and Martini Bar, a fine dining restaurant specializing in wines, seafood, and hand cut meats. After Cuggini sadly closed its doors, Chef Aaron ended up as Sous Chef at the award winning Café Casa Blanca, a very well-known restaurant located in the historical district in Ft. Lauderdale Beach. He then welcomed the opportunity to enter the Hospitality industry where he accepted a job as Line Supervisor at the Arrabelle in beautiful Vail, CO. After the “season” was over, he realized the growth and potential in the hotel industry and then moved on to Austin, TX to be the Executive Sous Chef overseeing two restaurants and a banquet department for a full service 197 room Holiday Inn managed by White Lodging Services. Chef Aaron was then transferred to the Boulder Marriott where he gained notoriety on the Denver Channel 7 News and the Boulder Daily Camera. He used this experience to join the team at the Estes Park Resort and is excited for the success of his team and the hotel as a whole.
When he’s not working, Aaron is riding his motorcycle through the Rockies, cooking at home, snowboarding, thinking about his next tattoo, gardening in the backyard, critiquing his saltwater aquarium, and spending time with his Fiancé, Kassandra, and their dogs, Maui an American bulldog, Gator-a playful pit-bull, and the newest addition – a Husky named Zero.
What/Who inspired you to be a chef?
Inspiration came from cooking from a young age, always been close to heart for me.
Formal education? Or Self-taught?
Johnson and Wales University Denver & Miami
How long have you been a chef?
Been in the restaurant business for 15 years, started washing dishes at Local Tampa Bay restaurant at age 14
What do you like about Sterling Salmon?
I believe in what I call “conscious buying” and Sterling Salmon falls directly into this; farm raised in natural habitat, quality, consistency and freshness.