Chef Aaron OwenChef Aaron Owen joined the Pietoso family as the Executive Chef of Nicola’s in late 2015. Chef Aaron’s passion, drive and innovative spirit have driven him since the beginning of his 14-year culinary career. He follows a philosophy of using fresh, locally-sourced products that showcase not only the traditions of his ancestors, but demonstrate his ability to reinterpret classical techniques and recipes in new and innovative ways.

At age 14, Aaron started working at a small French bistro in his small rural hometown. He advanced from dishwasher to sous chef in a matter of a year. During his three year stint at the bistro, he attended culinary classes. He competed in various culinary competitions, winning 6 gold medals, 3 silver medals and earning a total of $120,000 in culinary scholarships.

While attending culinary school, Aaron worked several jobs to broaden his culinary knowledge, including work as a butcher, a baker and a barista. During this time, he competed in college-level culinary competitions, earning 2 more silvers medals, as well as letters of recommendations from master chefs.

After school, at the age of 18, he went on to open a 4.5 million dollar restaurant. After a year and a half of running it, he aspired to push himself in a more competitive market.  He moved to Nashville where he worked his way up through the restaurant scene, eventually finding his home at the prestigious Watermark restaurant — one of the longest-standing fine dining restaurants in the city. After several years, Aaron moved to Cincinnati, where he worked as a sous chef for another highly respected dining establishment for four years, before accepting the position of Executive Chef at Nicola’s in 2015.