Aaron May Dishes On Being a Chef, a Restaurateur and a Party Boy
Buchanan Aaron May behind the bar at Praying Monk
7217 E. 1st Street, Scottsdale
-- Celeb Chefs Matt Carter, Beau MacMillan and Aaron May Cooking Up Four-Course Brunch at Superstition Farm
-- Aaron May Heads Kitchen at Former Renegade Canteen, Now Called Renegade Tap + Kitchen
-- Tastemaker #76: Anthony Patafio
This is part one of my interview with Aaron May, chef-partner of Praying Monk, Over Easy, The Lodge, Mabel's on Main, Renegade Tap + Kitchen and May's Counter in Tucson. Come back Tuesday when May explains why he admires Wolfgang Puck and what he would (or wouldn't) say to his detractors.
Disclosure: I worked as Aaron May's publicist from 2010-2011. Here's what I learned in that year.
Buchanan Aaron May in Praying Monk's kitchen
Nobody sits on the fence about Aaron May. People love him or hate him with equal passion. Standing 6'3" and weighing 60 pounds more than he should, he cuts a wide swath, literally and figuratively. Like Shakespeare's Falstaff, he has an enormous appetite for life, although he's hardly what you'd call a comic figure. Funny, yes, but sharp and incisive -- not a clown nor anyone's fool.
In the year I worked for him, I heard endless stories about his profligacy, stories I couldn't verify or refute. I was his publicist and as such, a person in his corner, not his drinking buddy (although there was the one time at DJ's over Jaegermeister) or his closest confidante. I wasn't privy to all the details of his money deals either (although he was very upfront with me about his percentage of ownership in each restaurant), and in many ways, I wish I had been. I think Aaron takes a lot of heat for restaurant failures when other restaurateurs, who've also tried and failed in various bad locations, don't.
But that's his lot in life. His brash confidence invites criticism. Those of us who've looked beyond the sniping know him to be an insanely intelligent person, a loving son and brother and a loyal, generous friend. He has his faults, and I could name a few of them (there's a fine line between confidence and arrogance, for example), but that's not my purpose here. I hope to convey the side of him most of you don't know, the side of Aaron May that has kept me in his corner long after the PR paychecks stopped coming.