AJ, a Wyoming native got his first real start as the Executive chef of Sand Diego’s CHIVE, where he was duly recognized by the James Beard Foundation (as one of its Rising Stars) and Southwest Magazine (as one of America’s Youngest and Brightest Chefs).
When he left in 2003, he started a decade-long run manning the kitchen of hotel restaurants all over the west, including the Inn at Ranchero Santa Fe, the W Hotel in San Diego, Three Degrees Waterfront Bar & Grill at Portland’s River Place Hotel and Portland’s famed Benson Hotel, which he left to man The Original’s kitchen.
Now that AJ is calling The Original home, he is getting back to the restaurant’s original creative roots, but with a more nuanced approach that’s as mindful of seasonality as it is of locally sourced meats and vegetables.
Highlighted features include grinding burger beef in house, and baking are burger rolls in house, too. Aj’s approach to take regular but unfussy comfort food staples—macaroni and cheese, meatloaf, grilled cheeses—and turn them into something that makes them destination dishes.
Above all, though, his motto is “Eat simple. Eat clean.”