McCloud, Chef Aaron Leonard Vienna, VA Chef Aaron Leonard McCloud passed away peacefully, surrounded by his Family, in Falls Church, Virginia, Sunday evening, March 5, 2017 after a yearlong courageous battle with cancer. Aaron was born on July 17, 1978 at The University of Michigan Women's Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan to George and Patricia (Kaiser) McCloud. Aaron showed a great affinity for music as a young child. He began formal violin instruction with Linda Etter at the Ann Arbor Suzuki Institute at age four, and before his fifth birthday performed his first solo in an honors recital. As a member of the Livonia Youth Symphony he won several performance scholarship competitions and at age ten was the orchestra's Concertmaster. He began attending Greenhills School in Ann Arbor in sixth grade immediately becoming a member of the high school orchestra where he was often first chair, and was first chair and Concertmaster of the high school Orchestra all four years. During his early teens, Aaron accepted an invitation to become a member of the Michigan Youth Symphony at the University of Michigan. He also studied with the U of M violin department chairperson. Aaron was an All-State camper at Interlochen Center for the Arts the summers of 1992 and 1994 and in 1993 attended the Interlochen International Arts Camp studying violin, piano, composition, and chamber music performance. Aaron's musical talents included vocal performance. He was an active member of the Ann Arbor Boy Choir from age nine to fourteen and was honored with the first Senior Chorister award. He performed with the Greenhills choir and as a soloist. Aaron won the lead roles in "Once Upon a Mattress" and "The Mikado". His barbershop quartet from the "Music Man" continued to perform at events around town. He also played harmonica in many bands with whom he had made an acquaintance in Michigan and on the East Coast. "Without Music Life Would Not Be Fair," a meaningful phrase often quoted by Aaron, hangs on a plaque in his home. Aaron was a member of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Ypsilanti. He served regularly as an acolyte from age nine until leaving for college. Aaron was an avid athlete. His elementary soccer and baseball teams won city titles in the 1980's. He earned six varsity athletic letters at Greehills School, four in track and two in Soccer. He won the Track Team Coaches' Award as a Sophomore and was team Captain his Senior year. He was an extreme Michigan Football and Detroit Tigers Baseball fan. He proudly wore his block M hat in many of his kitchens. Aaron's culinary journey began at 401 S. Depot St. in Ann Arbor, the location of the Gandy Dancer Restaurant. He began playing violin tableside for the Gandy's famous Sunday brunch and so impressed guests and management that he began booking off site weddings as a violinist and subsequently was offered a job as a host. Quickly realizing he preferred the Back of the House, he began in the dish tank at age 16 and within 6 months had been moved to various prep positions after showing his ability to grasp culinary concepts quickly and with a sense of urgency but always with attention to detail. By 17 he was a saute/broil man on the line and realized he had found his true calling. Aaron was awarded the prestigious Stephen E. Elmont Scholarship from the University of Massachusetts/Amherst Department of Hotel, Restaurant, and Travel Administration. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in 2000 from UMass. Armed with a hospitality business degree, Aaron returned home to hone his culinary skills back at the Gandy. He was quickly recruited by Dan Huntsbarger at The Moveable Feast. Huntsbarger was the former GM at the Gandy who gave Aaron his first job. Aaron benefited greatly from Chef Huntsbarger's tutelage. From The Movable Feast Aaron moved to The Plaza Resort and Spa in Daytona, Florida, before being selected as Saucier at the world renowned, AAA-Five Diamond Award winning Victoria and Albert's at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. He later relocated to the Washington DC area to open the critically acclaimed Aster as Chef de Cuisine. Aster earned top marks during Aaron's tenure and was regarded as one of the finest restaurants in the DC area. Next, Aaron began building the multi-concept, Vintage Restaurant Group which enjoyed great success during his years at the helm. After a season as Executive Chef at The Inn at Perry Cabin on Maryland's eastern shore, Chef McCloud returned to DC to lead the kitchen at Cedar, where he grew the establishments mark in DC. In 2012 Aaron and Cedar sponsored a benefit for the CURED Foundation, specifically mentoring a young lady with a digestive disorder that prevented her from eating most foods, yet she still wanted to become a chef. She would spend the entire weekend being mentored by Chef McCloud and the event was a shining example of Aaron's kindness, empathy, and ability to always pay it forward. Most recently Aaron was the Executive Chef of Willow Creek Farm, a Clyde's Restaurant Group venue, in Broadlands, Virginia, leading the expansion of the onsite working farm and event facilities. He is survived by his loving wife, Linda (Szewczyk); his mother, Patricia; father, George (Maggie); brother, Scott (Elaine); sister, Brook (Clark); nephew, Timothy Robert Bradley; nieces, Ava Vivian and Penelope Emmaline; many aunts, uncles and cousins, hundreds of culinary collaborators, and thousands of fans of the fine cuisine that Aaron so lovingly and skillfully presented for others to enjoy. A Funeral Service was held on March 11 at Muehlig's Funeral Chapel, followed by a luncheon gathering of family and friends at the Gandy Dancer. Donations in honor of Aaron may be made to The Aaron Leonard McCloud Memorial Scholarship, Interlochen Center for the Arts, P.O. Box 199, Interlochen, MI 49643.
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