Nine on the Line: Aidan Gould from Sky Islands Public High School

"Nine on the Line" is a chef Q&A series asking the same nine questions to different chefs.

Aidan Gould started working in the industry at age 18, having only cooked at home. He began his self-initiated culinary education with his grandmother’s 40-year-old Wüsthof for about three years, then eventually bought his own set of Global Cutlery brand knives.

His first gigs were pop-up dinners, then banquet and line cook work at the Tucson Country Club. Afterwards, he worked additional pop-up dinners along with positions at Charro Steak and Caffe Torino in the Foothills.

“I’ve always been the youngest guy in every kitchen I worked at and definitely a bit of a problem child,” Gould said. “Just ask Gary Hickey.”

Nowadays, Gould is a chef and teacher at Blue Sky Cafe farm-to-kitchen program at Sky Islands Public High School; he also raises funds for the school through seasonal pop-up dinners.

1) What was the first dish you had that changed your perspective on food?

I think the first dish that changed my perspective was the sample platter at Zemam’s. Never before had I eaten injera, and it was like, “holy ****, you can eat amazing food without any silverware.”

2) What are you eating these days?

I’ll be honest, I eat a lot of Cinnamon Life cereal.

3) What was the first dish you remember cooking?

I vividly remember really nailing tom kha gai back when I worked at the country club and being totally shut down because no one cared about Thai food.

Chef Aidan Gould sifting maqui berry powder onto duck breast with duck skin chicharron, grapefruit gastrique, and beet mole at Blue Sky Cafe at Sky Islands Public High School (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Chef Aidan Gould sifting maqui berry powder onto duck breast with duck skin chicharron, grapefruit gastrique, and beet mole at Blue Sky Cafe at Sky Islands Public High School (Credit: Jackie Tran)

4) What concept, ingredient, or food trend are you experimenting with these days?

I’ve been working really closely with Erik over at Pivot Produce and gotten super into butternut squash and really natural and rich food.

5) Who would you most like to cook or eat dinner with?

Sean Brock, hands down. He’s one of my biggest inspirations.

6) What city, other than Tucson, is your favorite place to eat?

Denver. There’s just so much variety and that’s my jam.

7) Speaking in junk food terms, what is your favorite guilty pleasure?

Haribo Twin Snakes.

8) Which three Tucson restaurants do you frequent the most, aside from your own?

Taqueria Pico de Gallo, Agustin Kitchen, and BOCA Tacos y Tequila.

9) With a figurative electric chair in your immediate future, what is your last meal?

This one’s really hard. I’m gonna have to go with tom kha gai. If you haven’t had it, you’re missing out big time. It’ll change your life.

Keep up with chef Aidan Gould on Instagram.

Jackie is a food writer and photographer native to Tucson. He loves corgis and still thinks rickrolling is funny. If you'd like to stalk him, visit jackietran.com.

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