Chef Aaron May has a quick mind and a low threshold for boredom, which goes a long way toward explaining the restaurant empire he’s building. Given his passion for food and irrepressible creativity, it’s hard to imagine any other path for this driven but surprisingly easy going guy.
His passion for good food came early. By the age of 15, he was working in a restaurant kitchen, and by 20, he had left the university to enroll in a culinary arts program. May left for Paris, where he spent a year studying at Ecole Ritz Escoffier and working in local restaurants to refine 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 Acacia (the property’s fine dining restaurant) before moving to Deseo at the Westin
Kierland Resort & Spa to work with celebrity chef Douglas
Rodgriguez, where he was mentored in the modern, deconstructionist approach to cooking he still employs today. A stint at Mario Batali’s Casa Mono was finishing school for May, who moved back to Arizona to open his own Spanish tapas restaurant (Sol y Sombra) to rave reviews in 2006.
In recent years, May has forged partnerships to open Over Easy (a popular breakfast restaurant with six locations), The Lodge (a funky North Woods-style bar), The Goodwood Tavern (dark wood and chocolate leather made this gastropub a hotspot in old town Scottsdale), Arcadia Yacht Club (a Seafood destination in the desert, right in the heart of Phoenix.) The Nativ hotel in Denver, which houses Portions (fun yet approachable mountain dining) and the Malibu Burger Co in California. Like May himself, each venue is sophisticated yet approachable.
Him and his restaurants have appeared on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” , "best thing I ever ate", "guys big bite" and a contestant and judge on "guys grocery games" as well as having the number one spot on The Learning Channel’s "Best Food Ever,” which have lead to the fiercely loyal fan base and many local awards, including “Best Tapas,” and “Best Speakeasy.” May has also garnered attention from national publications such as Food & Wine, Condé Nast Traveler, Sunset Magazine and USA Today. In 2010, he was inducted into the Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame as “Chef Extraordinaire.” Meanwhile, he never sits still or stops thinking about possible new restaurant concepts.