To say that Aron Pobereskin is the next Charlie Trotter or Grant Achatz isn’t making a prediction.
It’s simply stating the ambitious goal that Aron has set for himself.
“I want to be one of the top chefs of my generation in this country. I know that sounds egotistical, but it’s a personal challenge and the ultimate goal,” he says.
To achieve that goal, the Deerfield High School senior has spent the last few years building a resume that most 20-something sous-chefs would envy, with internships at some of the world’s most acclaimed restaurants.
Growing up with the Food Network, Aron’s first childhood dream was to be a TV chef. But then, it became more about cooking and working behind-the-scenes at restaurants. He didn’t grow up cooking, but after his parents divorced, he honed his skills cooking weeknight dinners for his mom, who works full-time in the city.
His sophomore year, he decided to get a job in a restaurant. After being turned away from many local kitchens for being too young, Aron thought, “Forget these guys, I want to be a great chef!” So, he emailed Charlie Trotter, asking for a chance to work in his kitchen.
To Aron’s surprise, the executive chef at Charlie Trotter’s invited him to work in the restaurant’s kitchen for two days. He assisted at all the stations, working with ingredients he had never seen before, including black garlic and pig’s feet. The second night, the chefs let him make risotto.
With the brief Trotter’s experience under his belt, Aron approached Grant Achatz about a summer internship at Alinea—which turned out to be the best experience of his life. “My approach is to start early and work for the best,” he says.
The internship started with a tryout of two 15-hour shifts in May. After he passed that test, Aron started working regular shifts, assisting chefs, plating food and helping out with the service.
“I learned ways to approach creating dishes. It’s about more than just food,” he says. For instance, Achatz serves one dish with burning oak leaves, evoking the smell of fall and stirring up memories. “People cry when they get that dish,” Aron says.
He parlayed his Alinea experience into internships at Perennial and Noma, a world-class restaurant in Copenhagen, where one of his duties was to spend 10-hour stints foraging in the woods with the chefs. For his senior year, he secured his first paying gig, at Kith & Kin in Lincoln Park.
This fall, Aron’s headed to The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y.—the only school he applied to. “I could never see myself at a traditional college,” he says.
And he doesn’t mind working hard to achieve his goals. “I like to hang out, but I prefer to work. When I’m not working, it’s all I think about. When I’m older, maybe I’ll wish I hadn’t worked so hard. But I think it’s going to pay off.