Graduate: 2002, Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Chicago (formerly known as The Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago.)
Current Position: Executive Sous Chef, Fairmont Chicago Hotel
Chicago Chef Ron Aleman Masters the Art of Good Stock in Life and in the Kitchen
Career-Changer Chef finds Happiness in Starting from the Beginning
Chef Ron Aleman, a Chicago local, is one of many thriving career-changers who have found success after laying a foundation with a culinary education from Le Cordon Bleu.
Dissatisfied with his sales profession, Chef Ron decided to pursue his passion for cooking by enrolling in Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Chicago. Following graduation in 2002, Chef Ron became a sous chef at the Fairmont Chicago Hotel. He rose quickly through the ranks and now works as executive sous chef creating new and seasonally conscious menu items for the luxury hotel. Chef Ron exemplifies how an education from Le Cordon Bleu combined with an ardent appreciation of food can help build the foundation for a career in the culinary industry.
As a manager, Chef Ron is responsible for overseeing stewarding, banquets, restaurant and in-room dining services. In addition to his role at Fairmont Chicago, he travels around the country helping to coordinate grand openings for sister hotels. He stresses, "Learning to make a good stock is essential to succeeding in any culinary challenge. In order to create great cuisine, you must start at the beginning. Without an incredible stock to use as your flavor base, your dish will not recognize its full potential.”
Based on his travels and experience, Chef Ron sees the green movement as a growing trend and influence on the food industry. “It is obvious that the general public has gained a vast amount of knowledge about food and the importance of using locally grown products. The green movement has also inspired more and more people to seek out organics and sustainable items.”
Getting to Know Ron - Q/A
Le Cordon Bleu Alum Ron Aleman Gives a Taste of His Life at Fairmont
When did you realize cooking was your passion and how were you inspired to enroll in culinary school?
One day I came home from work (a job that I didn’t really care for), and I started cooking. I opened up a bottle of red wine, turned on the Food Network and I thought, “Wow, how great would it be if I could just do this for a living?” The rest is history.
What is one thing that you learned in culinary school that has proven to be indispensible throughout your culinary career?
Taste, taste, taste everything! Never serve anything without tasting it many times and be sure to try everything at least once.
What career goals have you accomplished since graduating from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Chicago?
I am still working on many career goals, but one that was most important to me was to surround myself with positive, forward-thinking individuals who care about food and great, quality service. I have found that in my current executive chef, Brad Parsons, and with my incredible company, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts.
What do you do in your current position?
I create new and seasonally conscious menu items for Fairmont Chicago. I also work to develop objectives and goals for the development of all cooks. On a managerial level, I am responsible for overseeing stewarding, banquets, Aria restaurant/bar and in-room dining. In addition to working with Fairmont Chicago, I have been able to assist sister hotels in their grand openings, including Scottsdale in 2008 and Pittsburgh earlier this year.
What LCB foundational technique do you feel is the most important skill to master?
Mastering the art of making a great stock. I feel that in order to create great cuisine, you must start at the beginning, and without an incredible stock to use as your flavor base, your dish will not recognize its full potential.
Did you develop a recipe during your time in culinary school that you still use today? Tell us about it.
I learned a great recipe for herb focaccia from Chef Tom in my breads class. Over the years, I have made it my own and will put it up against any baker’s – any place, anytime!
What is your favorite flavor combination to use while cooking and why?
Sweet and savory. I love how using the right combination of each can play off each other so well.
What do you see as a popular cooking technique that is showing up in kitchens around the country? Or what cooking technique do you see gaining more popularity this year?
It is obvious that the general public has gained a vast amount of knowledge about food and the importance of using locally grown products. As far as a specific cooking technique goes, I would say that grilling has become more popular now than ever. The green movement has also inspired more and more people to seek out organics and sustainable items as well.
What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a culinary career?
Give it an honest try, think about the sacrifices it involves, and put all of your heart into it.