We’re peeking into the minds of Ann Arbor’s culinary arbiters and their unique perspective on Washtenaw County’s dining and hospitality culture.
Known for animating Frita Batidos with distinct, approachable flavors, Chef Eve Aronoff Fernandez now provides the menu direction as Consulting Chef at the all-new dessous (312 S Main St), lending the reconcepted restaurant’s menu intercontinental inflections informed by her classical French training along with a Mediterranean component from the chef’s formative years in Israel.
Catch up with Aronoff Fernandez as she reminiscences about dishwashing clams, shares her earliest memory of cooking and divulges her lasting affinity for spaghetti with parmesan cheese.
The craziest thing that’s ever happened to you in a kitchen?
I once asked one of our cooks to wash some clams and soon after saw them coming out through the conveyor of the dishwasher.
What metaphor would you use to describe your cuisine?
A woven blanket.
Which countries or environs do you find yourself turning to for culinary inspiration?
North Africa, West Africa, India, Cuba, and France, because that is where I formally studied.
Your earliest memory of cooking?
Learning how to make eggs from my Grandma. She got me an egg spatula which was very special to me.
Aside from your home restaurant, which eatery is your favorite in Washtenaw county?
I like casual, tasty, neighborhood places. To name a few, Spencer, Juicy Kitchen, El Harissa Market Café and Kosmos for Bi Bim Bap.
What’s your favorite all-time meal and what drink did you pair it with?
One of my favorite meals was years ago on the terrace of a restaurant called Sassi in Scottsdale, AZ. The myriad flavorful dishes included a spicy poached octopus with cucumber which was unexpected but absolutely delicious. I also tried one of my favorite wines with that meal for the first time, Paternoster’s Aglianico del Vulture.
Your last chosen meal on Earth would be what?
A big bowl of spaghetti with parmesan; I just can’t ever pass that up.
**This interview has been edited for length, content and clarity.