There's a Grand Canyon (literally and figuratively) between Restaurant Au Pied de Cochon — the Montreal shrine to all things pork — and Ubuntu, a Michelin-starred “vegetable” restaurant and yoga studio in Napa Valley. But it's the chasm 27-year-old Aaron London has crossed in his frenetic career as a chef.
It was a circuitous route to Ubuntu, which began with London's six-month, full-time internship at Daniel in New York City while attending the CIA. In between schooling terms, London moved to Montreal where his grandmother lived. There he helped open Pied de Cochon and then later served as chef de partie at highly regarded Restaurant Toque.
He returned to New York to complete his education, while also working at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, a temple of the farm-to-table movement created by James Beard award-winning chef Dan Barber. That experience helped set the tone for what would follow at Ubuntu, but not before London took time to bicycle throughout Europe and stage at several Parisian restaurants, including Chef Alain Passard's L'Arpege.
Upon his return to this country, he joined Ubuntu during the restaurant's fourth week and steadily rose from line cook to chef de cuisine, replacing Jeremy Fox. For his efforts, London earned a Michelin star for the restaurant and was nominated this year for a James Beard Rising Star Chef award. In meat-loving America, that's no small feat for a chef toiling at a restaurant with a vegetable focus.