Blind Lady Ale House
San Diego, CA
Aaron LaMonica is the real deal. His cooking career began at age 14, when he got a job at a local pizza joint washing dishes and tossing pizza dough. Today, Aaron can still toss dough like a champ, but his talent goes far beyond the artisan pizzas that come out of the kitchen at Blind Lady Ale House. Having worked under some amazing chefs, Aaron became obsessed with local, quality ingredients, and old school technique, which led him to teach himself how to make sausages, charcuterie, and even his own prosciutto.
If you’re looking for a fancy alternative to the normal meat dishes on Super Bowl Sunday, or a special treat for your significant other on Valentine’s Day, try Aaron’s recipe for Lamb Terrine with Hazelnuts and Apricots >>
Q: How did you get involved in cooking? Was it something you learned to love early on or did you come to it later?
A: I started cooking at a pizza place in Sun Valley, Idaho when I was 14. At first it was just a fun job, but as time went on I realized that I really loved food and could make a career out of it. In my early 20’s I moved to San Diego and was lucky enough to work with Chef Michael Stebner. He taught me the importance of quality ingredients and solid technique.
Q: Why is eating grassfed meat different? How does it affect your cooking? Is it just about health? Or is there more to it than that?
A: There’s a certain quality inherent to grass-fed meat that can’t be surpassed, or even met, by grain-fed and conventional meat. The flavor and texture of the meat make each dish that much better. The health benefits are just icing on the cake, so to speak.
Q: Why is it so important to have the right ingredients?
A: If you start a dish off high quality ingredients, you’re more likely to get your desired result. Whatever skills you have—pro or amateur—are boosted by fresh ingredients. You won’t have to do much to transform great ingredients into a great dish.
Q: What are the most important keys to success for the home chef?
A: Get yourself a good knife, and learn how to keep it sharp. There are plenty of how-tos online, so there’s really no excuse for having a dull knife. Also, learn to make your own stocks. A good stock is the base for so many different sauces and soups, so it’s a good thing to keep around.
Q: What are the most helpful tips you have learned that you can pass on to the home chef?
A: Don’t be afraid to experiment. A recipe is just a suggestion.
Q: What advice do you have for families in the kitchen, and for encouraging everyone in the family to eat the same meal?
A: Get your kids involved and interested in where there food comes from. Go to a farmer’s market, plant a garden and have them help make dinner. It’s easier for kids to enjoy things they wouldn’t normally like when they feel like they have ownership over it.