This month, we talk to Aaron Hutcherson, creator of food love website The Hungry Hutch. In addition to having cooked professionally, Aaron is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute who discovered his love of food and cooking as a child making it easy to see why the recipes he shares on his site are so consistently compelling and memorable. Aaron was kind enough to share on topics like the ups and downs of having worked as a line cook, his favorite summer go-to food, his earliest memories of kitchen adventures, and more.
Flavorful World: We both spent our childhoods helping and shadowing our parents in the kitchen. Tell us you earliest memory of cooking by yourself. What dish did you prepare, and how did that process go?
Aaron Hutcherson: I remember once deciding to make some roasted red-skinned potatoes after trying them at a family friend’s house. My mother had bought one of those standard five-pound bags from the grocery store for me to use and I started cutting away. I wasn’t really paying attention to what I was doing and ended up prepping the entire bag! Let’s just say we ended up eating a lot of leftover potatoes that week, but at least they tasted good.
FW: You’ve worked as a line cook. What was the best part of that experience, and why? What was the worst part of that experience, and why?
AH: I absolutely loved my time as a line cook, but the lifestyle is what got to me in the end. My social life was very minimal during that period because I was either always working or super tired from my shift when all of my friends with “regular” jobs were free. However, I loved the rush of a busy shift (after I got the hang of things, of course), and the freedom I was given to be creative in the kitchen at times. There’s no feeling like seeing your own creation on the menu.
FW: Your site states that you’ll try almost anything once in the kitchen and on the plate. What food(s) won’t you try? What aspect(s) of the food are the most offputting and why?
AH: I think I might draw the line at something that’s still moving when it hits the table. I know a lot of people have a thing with texture, but that doesn’t really bother me. I tried balut (fertilized duck egg) recently and realized the most off-putting aspect is my brain. It tasted fine, but I couldn’t wrap my head around what I was eating and was only able to take a couple of small bites.
FW: What has been the most unanticipated benefit of having attended the French Culinary Institute?
AH: Aside from all of the kitchen skills I learned, it would have to be the network it has given me. Because I went to school there I’ve been able to take additional classes for free by volunteering, I was able to get my foot in the door at Food Network and work on fun things, I’ve gotten some occasional freelance jobs, and I built some great friendships. The network is definitely the biggest benefit of going to culinary school.
FW: Describe for us your perfect day spent eating in New York City, if you had to rely only on street vendors and or food trucks.
AH: There are so many to choose from! I’d probably start with a coffee from any one of the morning food trucks, lunch from the Halal Guys, a mid-afternoon NYC hot dog, tacos for dinner, and then head to Wafels & Dinges for dessert to end the night with a Belgian waffle with a scoop of ice cream and fudge sauce.
FW: What is your favorite summer comfort recipe that can be made using three or fewer ingredients?
AH: Sweet tea! All you need is water, tea bags, and sugar. Yes, this is a drink and not food, but I’m going to go with it anyway (there’s nothing wrong with bending the rules a little bit).
FW: Name a restaurant you’ve never visited that is your dream destination. Where would you choose to eat, what would you order, and why do you choose that restaurant?
AH: My choice would definitely be The French Laundry. It’s an iconic restaurant with one of the world’s best chefs in wine country—what more does one need? I believe it’s tasting-menu only, so the restaurant will choose what’s best and in season to make the dishes for diners.
FW: Excluding the name of any of your pre-existing blogs , websites , or print /online personas, tell us what name you would give to your memoir about your culinary exploits?
AH: “For the love of food.”
FW: When you aren’t cooking /eating delicious things , how do you most enjoy spending your time?
AH: Watching trashy reality television on the couch with my roommate, or out dancing the night away with friends.
*Note to readers: Chef Aaron is as prolific online as he is in the kitchen. You can follow his creative process and stay abreast of what’s cooking by seeking him out on Instagram and making friends on Facebook. You can also tweet him on Twitter and pin his creations to any Pinterest board you want to instantly make cooler and tastier.