We met in the early afternoon to capture behind the scenes shots of Executive Chef and Owner Ben Maides, with his talented staff as they prep for AuCourant's evening menu. Ben was also game for Q & A.
This feature is part of our Artifact@Work series, where we spotlight individuals who superbly demonstrate their craft. We look at the unique environments they work in, the tools they use, and they wonderful things they create. Photography by Dan Brouillette.
Chris: What sparked your interest in cooking?
Ben: Even at a very young age growing up watching my Mother and Grandmother cook was very inspiring and intriguing.
Chris: What did you do prior to opening AuCourant?
Ben: I spent a lot of years cooking and traveling, honing my craft.
Chris: What do you like to do when you are not thinking about food?
Ben: Woodworking or fixing up the house.
Chris: What is one of your favorite dishes you like to make?
Ben: Handmade pasta is still to this day probably my favorite to make and eat.
Chris: Are there particular knives you like or covet? What are some of your favorite culinary tools?
Ben: I am a huge fan of Japanese carbon steel, there is a line of knives called Kochi from Japanese knife imports and they are hands down the best knives I've ever used.
Chris: How did you school yourself in cooking? Any mentors?
Ben: Years and years of long hours in kitchens, Philip Tessier when I was working at Bouchon in Yountville.
Chris: Any books that have been helpful to you in work and/or life?
French Laundry Cookbook (by American chefs Thomas Keller, Michael Ruhlman, and Susie Heller), Letters to a Young Chef (by Daniel Boulud), The Soul of a Chef (by Michael Ruhlman)
Chris: What advice would you give your 20-, 25-, or 30 year-old self? And please place where you were at the time, and what you were doing.
Ben: I would tell my 25 year old self to keep pushing and not be afraid to take more risks and follow your dreams. I was working at a 2 Michelin star restaurant in California.
Chris: What is something you are grateful for?
Ben: Having the opportunity to cook to food I want, and have guests that come to the restaurant and support that.
Chris: Do you have a quote you live your life by or think of often?
Ben: Never stop. It's a marathon not a sprint.
Chris: What does being “successful” mean to you?
Ben: Successful means setting a goal and not only achieving it but pushing yourself to set harder to achieve and loftier goals.
Chris: What is a good lesson you’ve learned in business?
Ben: A business takes a long time to grow. Take things one day at a time. Slow and steady wins the race.
Chris: What is next?
Ben: Building out our 20 acre farm to be one of our main sources of produce and ingredients for our Restaurant.
It's been an inspiration and an honor to be in AuCourant's kitchen. Thanks again to Ben and his staff for our intrusion.
Follow AuCourant on Instagram at: @AuCourantRestaurant
AuCourant's Site: www.aucourantrestaurant.com
Read article about AuCourant in Omaha Magazine
AuCourant is located in Omaha's historic Benson district at: 6064 Maple St, Omaha, NE 68104.