Aaron Butts: Art of Cuisine

     The world of cuisine is an art form that many think little about as a media. Presenting a succulent meal does not come by accident or lack of artistic skill. Just as a painting can trigger the release of the senses, calm and quiet or confusion and distress, a well-displayed dish not only plays with the emotional part of our brain, but also awakens many other senses. Scents establish pleasure or reluctance while the palette further tells our brain that the climax of our other senses is or is not correct.

     Becoming a chef does not just abound from ones love of cooking. There are many areas to learn and master in becoming a sought after artist of cuisine. The American Culinary Federation of Chefs of Northwest Indiana, founded in 1929, offers excellent programs to complete different certification levels of becoming a cooking professional. Fourteen different levels of certification are offered, with strict, specific qualifications, in addition to knowledge of culinary nutrition, food safety and sanitation, and culinary supervisory management. It is fundamental to the program that work experience is equivalent to the level of certification.

     An eating establishment is only as good as the staff of chefs that it retains and these professionals work hard to present only the best to their clients. One fine example of a chef who is considered a sought after artist of the trade in cuisine is Aaron Butts, Master Chef of Joseph Decius, a four star restaurant located in the small rural town of Roanoke, Indiana, just west of Fort Wayne.

     Proprietor Alice Eshelman knows a little bit about great cuisine, living and acting in New York City before starting the establishment fifteen years ago. Named after ancestor, Joseph Decuis   (1752-1822), who was an exemplary example of the American Dream, creating his legacy that dining was an important social event for conversation, laughter and bonding between family, friends and business associates; Alice was inspired to create this foundation.

     Fortunately, Aaron Butts, now Executive Chef, believed in many of the same ideals as Eshelman and has been with the restaurant since 2000, starting as Sous Chef and working his way up. From Leo, Indiana, it is obvious that you do not have to visit a large metropolis to experience the best in cuisine. Receiving an education from the chefs of Mallory’s while working at Don Hall’s Guesthouse, Butts fell in love with cooking and the natural feel that it had for him.

     “I was hooked the moment I stepped in the front door; (of Joseph Decius, then called Café Creole)” says Butts. “Not too many chefs get the chance to start at a brand new restaurant. After talking with the Chef and owners, I felt a real sense of passion that I wanted to be a part of.”

     Preparing world cuisine using classical techniques is a signature of Joseph Decius and Butts loves letting the creative juices flow when asked to design one of their Japanese, Italian, French, Spanish or American dishes. Whether it is a specialty of Kobe Cannelloni, pasta stuffed with ground Kobe Beef, spinach and ricotta, served in a roasted garlic cream or a dessert of Crème Brulee, a caramelized lemon basel infused custard with fresh berries; the end result is always the same.

     “I’ve made some plates that make me stand back and say ‘Wow! That looks fantastic’, and if a camera is within arm’s reach, we’ll capture it for future reference. I’ve spent plenty of time fussing over the look of a dish but ultimately it’s the taste that matters.”

     Atmosphere wraps the entire dining experience and Joseph Decius has a variety to choose from. All artwork created by Tim Johnson; there are five different areas, with their own personal and distinct style to make the meal an unforgettable adventure.

     The media of cuisine can come to life for anyone who has the skill and desire to learn and achieve. For more information on how to get started, visit www.acfchefs.org/content/education.

     To experience the passion of cooking by Chef Butts, whose greatest love a few short years ago was football and jazz bands; visit www.josephdecuis.com. Don’t be afraid to challenge his skills but try and have a camera on hand.


Editor’s note: First published 2008-09, Vol. 20 No. 3, Cover Section, Art-to-Art Palette Journal. To view the original print version, see www.scribd.com/arttoartpalette/documents

Published by on May 2011. Filed under Archives, Art-to-Art Palette Journal, Cupboard Section. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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