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Interview with Chef Aaron Webb, Photo by Rose Hammitt

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After having the pleasure of eating Chef Aaron’s food at both the Casa Marina Hotel and Zetas, the restaurant he runs along with Mark Vandeloo, I was thrilled to have a minute to sit down and find out how this dynamic chef holds it all together. Mark Vandeloo and Chef Aaron Webb have teamed the past decade at Casa Hotel in Jacksonville Beach where Mark is the General Manager and Aaron, serves as the Executive Chef. Recently the two added their own ZETA restaurant that as Leigh Cort who represents the properties said, “Has the fun, casual vibe and beachy appeal of the area…a restaurant/bar that serves excellent food and top drawer drinks while making it accessible to a spectrum of locals, visitors, families and singles.”
Chef Aaron started out in the restaurant business at a very young age. “I washed dishes when I was 15. I am from North Georgia,” Chef Aaron said.
At the restaurant he got his start from the owner who was a Cornell Culinary school graduate. “By the time I was 17, she had taught me the mother sauces, how to butcher and all the basics. At 18, I lived above the restaurant and was running her kitchen so I also understand the financial side.”
Like his mentor, Chef Aaron also decided to get the formal education to accompany his on the job learning. “I went to the Culinary Art Institute of Atlanta,” he said.

When asked how he ended up moving from Atlanta to Jacksonville Beach, he smiled and said it was a woman. “I met a girl from here. She was the roommate of my sister. I moved down here with no job and no money. I came with $80.00 and she let me crash.”
It all worked out in the end, the two are married now and after serving as a sous chef, then consulting, Chef Aaron moved up to the Casa Marina and “I have been here for twelve years,” he summarized.

When my friend Rose and I caught up with him, it was between preparing for the day at the Casa Marina after catering a charity event for the March of Dimes the night before. His favorite event to cater is a wedding. “I love weddings. They are happy occasions and it is fun to cook for their special day.”
About Casa Marina he said, “This is a small place, it is like coming into our home.”
This busy Chef and his wife have two boys 8 and 10 that he said are “foodies”. Love for good food runs in the family and Chef Aaron is taking it all in stride.
The new restaurant is keeping him extra busy, but this was a dream both he and Mark Vandeloo shared. “The owner here is Greek and ZETA translates into to party festive.”

The next new thing Chef Aaron said in adding craft beer to ZETA. “We got the paperwork to craft beer. We hope to do food and beer pairings. The brewer is an old friend who is an executive chef who wanted a career change. If ZETA does well, Mark and I will tackle something else!”
For more information about ZETA, log onto http://zetajax.com/.