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

Aaron -behind bar cropped.jpg
Aaron May behind the bar at Praying Monk

Aaron May
Praying Monk
7217 E. 1st Street, Scottsdale

See also:
-- 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.

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Aaron May in Praying Monk's kitchen
Disclosure: I worked as Aaron May's publicist from 2010-2011. Here's what I learned in that year.

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.

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

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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!

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