The Chef Special: Aron Habiger & Ashley Guzman
One of the best things to come out of North Left’s kitchen, besides the food, is the chemistry and friendship Chef Aron Habiger and Sous and Pastry Chef Ashley Guzman share. They undoubtedly have a special connection that resonates within their food.
Chef Aron Habiger was born in Washing State but grew up in Orange County. He always wanted to become a chef at a very young age. Immediately after Culinary School, he started working for a small mom and pop bistro. After gaining some experience there, he opened up the Crosby as the Executive Chef. North Left soon replaced the Crosby in 2014, with Habiger still remaining as the chef. Check out Habiger as he explains his style of cooking, mentions some of his future plans, and also points out a famous celebrity he would like to be cooking in the kitchen with one day.
In her early career, Chef Ashley can be found working at Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles, and Playground in Santa Ana, that’s when she met Habiger for the first time.
“I had never worked in a professional kitchen before but after getting my ass handed to me that night, and loving it, I knew that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.” Words from Chef Ashley Guzman speaking about her experience at Bouchon in Beverly Hills. You can call that her defining moment when she knew she wanted to become a professional Chef.
Below she talks about the Santa Ana food scene and how the community comes together to share a common goal. She also talks about her culture and how it strongly influences her style of cooking.
“He came back and introduced himself to me and from then on we were on each other’s radar.”she says. Shortly after she left Playground, and around the same time Crosby closed, Chefs Aron and Ashley worked on a couple of pop ups and then six months later opened the North Left together.
“He and I built a team together. This was the unique thing about working for Chef Aron that I had never experienced before. For the first time I was working with somebody and not for somebody. Working alongside him completely changed me. He really valued my palette and my experience and allowed me to be the kind of leader that I am naturally. With that being said, he gave me the strength to be independent and slowly chipped away at the rigid work style I was used to. He taught me that I can smile and have fun at work while still getting the job done.”
Chef Ashley identifies their friendship and kitchen relationship like Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre. They come from different backgrounds with each having their own style of cooking but when they come together, “it’s fire.”
Both Chefs support CulinaryLab and its goal to educate students to be prepared in the Culinary world. “there are so many aspects of working in a kitchen, especially a restaurant, that are never addressed in culinary school. I believe that CulinaryLab will address those issues and will better prepare cooks for the reality that is kitchen life.” Ashley says.
If you are an aspiring Chef, these guys have some advice for you. – Be humble. Don’t overlook the basics. And ask as many questions as you can.