Executive Chef Aran Essig, C.E.C, C.C.A.
Certified Executive Chef & Certified Culinary Administrator
Chef Essig started an early interest in the culinary profession while growing up in Michigan. Even at age 10 he knew that the kitchen was his calling. By age 19, Aran had worked his way through the ranks of the local country club to Executive Chef. At this country club, Chef Essig provided banquets for weddings on a weekly basis, lunch to the members, and dinners to the general public. Throughout his six years at the country club, Chef Essig was constantly preparing to further his career and knowledge of culinary arts.
At age 21, Aran moved from Michigan to Colorado to attend the Colorado Institute of Art, School of Culinary Arts. During school he worked at various Denver restaurants, including IL Fornio, where he was taught Italian artesian bread making techniques.
Upon graduation, Chef Essig gained the Executive Chef position at the University of Northern Colorado, making him the youngest Executive Chef in the university foodservice segment nationwide, as well as the first for colleges in Northern Colorado. Here at the University of Northern Colorado, Chef Essig plans menus for three dining rooms and a catering department. When not in the kitchen, some of Chef Essig's other responsibilities include employee training, recipe creation, menu writing, product evaluation, sanitation inspections, staff and production planning, and teaching.
Chef Essig teaches classes in the evenings once a week to UNC Dining Services employees and the surrounding community’s culinary professionals to assist them in gaining their American Culinary Federation certification. The three classes taught are Supervision, Nutrition, and Sanitation. He is a certified proctor for the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, is on the Board of Directors, Educational Fund President and Certification Chairman for the American Culinary Federation, Colorado Chefs Association and is also Regional Chairman for NACUFS (National Association of College University Food Service) Culinary Competitions. Chef Essig has won numerous cooking competitions, including the first ever NACUFS Culinary Challenge in 2001, which lead to competition at a national level against eight of the USA’s Top University Chefs.
Food and Wine pairing is a passion of Chef Essig's. He has worked the Telluride Food and Wine Fest 1998, 1999, 2000, Aspen Food and Wine Classic 2001 and the Palisade Wine Fest 2001, 2002. To help understand the marriage of food and wine to a further extent, Chef Essig has traveled to Perigoix, Perigoudine, and Bordeaux, France as part of a Culinary Educational Program lead by Michel Bouit.
Other areas of interest include ethnic menu creation for campus and catering events here at UNC.
Last year, Chef Essig was nominated for Colorado Chef of the year by the Colorado Chef Association. This year, Chef Essig has been nominated for the prestigious National Chef Professionalism Award by the ACF. This award is given to those who have dedicated themselves to the foodservice industry with a high level of passion and who have contributed significantly to the furtherance of the Culinary Arts profession.