For Eve Aronoff, the opening of her new restaurant, Frita Batido, is a dream come true. The owner and chef said she always envisioned opening an affordable restaurant that reflected her creative and informal personality.
Aronoff, who already owns the restaurant Eve on North 5th Avenue in Ann Arbor, will be opening her second venture by July 1, 2010 in the space formally occupied by Café du Jour on West Washington Street.
Though the new restaurant will be Cuban inspired, Aronoff said she doesn’t plan to offer Cuban dishes. Instead, the chef said the menu will reflect her passion for different textures and flavors and her commitment to buying fresh produce from local sources.
“(My restaurant) is inspired by Cuban culture and ingredients and my own style of cooking and doing something fun and casual and informal, but still following the things that are important to me like working with local farmers and following the seasons and being able to make something that is delicious and affordable,” Aronoff said.
Aronoff said she has wanted to open Frita Batido ever since reading about a Cuban sandwich called Frita — a Cuban burger made of chorizo with shoestring fries on top and an egg bun.
“It was so wild because years and years ago I always wanted to do it,” Aronoff said.
Aronoff said the restaurant will also offer a variety of batidos — milkshakes made with tropical fruit, ice and sometimes rum. She added that she wants Frita Batido to be a restaurant where students can afford to dine regularly and that embraces the casual culture of the area.
Aronoff started her career with a part-time cooking job in a local restaurant kitchen while studying at Brandeis University in Massachusetts. Since that time, she said her passion for food has grown.
Aronoff said that as a child she always had a love for food because she grew up in a family that revolved around eating and cooking. After graduating from Brandeis, Aronoff took her cooking skills to the next level and studied at Le Cordon Bleu — a culinary school in Paris.
Aronoff said she enjoys opening restaurants because she loves the many aspects of the food industry — the food, the business and a restaurant’s atmosphere.
“I wanted to do something personal and independent and just really try to do something special,” Aronoff said. “My style of cooking is French philosophy with a lot of influences from all over … just trying a bunch of different ingredients together and paying attention to the texture and contrasts.”
For Aronoff, the thought of opening more restaurants is not out of the question, but she said she would want the restaurants to be in places similar to Ann Arbor, where she is able to make food from scratch and buy products from local farmers.
Because Aronoff will be head chef and owner of both Eve and Frita Batido, she said she plans to have a sous chef at each restaurant to help her run both places successfully and smoothly.
Aronoff has become somewhat of a local celebrity for more than just her restaurant. Last year, she competed on season six of Bravo’s reality competition show “Top Chef.”
Aronoff said she cannot comment on the experience due to a contract with the network, but she said she learned that televised competitions weren’t her style.
“I thrive on real life challenges, but reality television and televised challenges were not my cup of tea,” Aronoff said.
While “Top Chef” was a unique and challenging cooking experience, Aronoff said she looks forward to the challenges of owning two businesses and creating a restaurant that embodies her cooking and style.
“I really care about the quality and standard and creativity,” Aronoff said. “I am such an informal person that I am really excited to be doing something like that, that is really special at the same time.”