A self-described “southern Missouri boy” with a passion for the culinary arts, executive chef Aaron Baggett loves American cuisine and cooking, creating dishes with a true rustic, comfort feel. But this Farmington, Missouri native and graduate of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, doesn’t like to limit himself. With more than 16 years in the restaurant industry and special training in the discipline and techniques of Asian food, Aaron has developed a signature style of inventive American cooking by using hints of ingredients and flavors from other cuisines to create just the right twist on traditional American fare. The end result, according to Aaron, is “a menu that is diverse enough to please every palette,” and gives customers “what they want in an item, but maybe not in a way they thought they would get it.” Aaron also loves to take advantage of fresh products and ingredients grown and raised locally. “I make it a point to source the best local products,” says Aaron. “Perhaps it comes from growing up in Missouri and spending much of my career here, but I’ve seen and experienced first-hand the high quality products such as produce, dairy, and, of course, wine that the area has to offer.”
In his role as executive chef, Aaron has collaborated closely with Chris LaRocca, partner/proprietor of EdgeWild, to develop a menu that features everything from savory American classics to an array of flatbread pizzas to more creative entrees featuring wine infusion. The duo has also selectively paired each menu item with one of EdgeWild’s own private label fine wines that have been sourced directly from high-end winemakers in California, Oregon, Washington State and Missouri. “Cooking with wine is second nature in a lot of cuisines,” says Aaron “but designing a menu, where every item can be paired with wine can be a bit of a challenge but in a fun way.”
Aaron is looking forward to developing and shaping EdgeWild through its menu offerings, wine pairings and tastings and the overall experience. “We are here to make people happy… and full,” states Aaron. “Once customers come to EdgeWild and have a great time, I want them to realize that this is the only place in St. Louis that can offer that same type of experience again.”
What is your favorite ingredient?
I use thyme a lot, but my favorite thing to play with is mushrooms. There are so many different types and each have their own great flavor.
What’s your favorite dish at EdgeWild?
Santa Fe Stack.
Who has inspired you the most in your culinary career?
My mom and grandma. I love to cook, but when it comes down to it I want people to enjoy what they are eating and have a connection to the food like their own family recipes.
If you could cook for anyone in the world, who would it be?
Wow, I’ve never thought about that before. I can’t really think of anyone I’d be more pleased with than another.
What do you cook at home that you never cook at the restaurant?
My mom’s fried potatoes and hamburger.
What is your personal philosophy?
It always gets better. Life is full of ups and downs, but it has always gotten better than it was before.
What are your favorite hobbies?
Fishing, reading and do-it-yourself projects.