Aaron May Dishes On Being a Chef, a Restaurateur and a Party Boy

Courtesy of King Lawrence
Mussels and fries at Praying Monk
May began working pantry at a Chicago steakhouse at the age of 15, not because he needed the money but because he wanted to. He spent hours watching TV celeb-cooks Graham Kerr and David Rosengarten and considered becoming a chef. Well, that or a politician, which he believed, at the time, was "noble work."

By the time he was 20, he'd left U of A and his political science degree to enroll in the culinary arts program at Scottsdale Community College. Upon graduation, he moved to Paris, where he spent a year at L'Ecole Ritz Escoffier, refining his skills as a classically trained chef.

When he returned to the States, he took his first professional position at the Four Seasons Resort in Scottsdale, working at Crescent Moon and Acacia (the property's fine dining restaurant) before moving to Deseo at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa to work with celebrity chef Douglas Rodgriguez. May spent another two years with Rodriguez, traveling with him and working at his various restaurants in Manhattan (including Ola), all the while being mentored in the modern, deconstructionist approach to cooking he employs today.

A stint at Mario Batali's Casa Mono was finishing school for May, who moved back to the Valley to open his own Spanish tapas restaurant (Sol y Sombra) to rave reviews in 2006. Since then, he has opened a string of restaurants -- Over Easy, The Lodge, Mabel's on Main, May's Counter and Praying Monk -- closing four of them: Sol y Sombra, Autostrada, Vitamin T and Iruña. In 2010, he was inducted into the Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame as "Chef Extraordinaire."

Location Info

Praying Monk - CLOSED

7217 E. 1st St., Scottsdale, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Over Easy

4730 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

The Lodge - CLOSED

4422 N. 75th St., Scottsdale, AZ

Category: Music

Mabel's on Main - CLOSED

7018 E. Main St., Scottsdale, AZ

Category: Music

Renegade - CLOSED

9343 E. Shea Blvd., Scottsdale, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
James Porter
James Porter

Great first piece and a class act professional, love the guy!


The absolute pinnacle, Nikki...best one yet! I can personally attest to the validity of every point you and Mr. A. May made in this short concise article (mini expose). Could not agree more with Aarony about Jean-Louis Palladin (RIP)..could not disagree more about bacon. Some of the old world  producers in Appalachia and New England have produced epic rashers!

Now Trending

From the Vault