Aaron McCargo Jr. : Simply Done, Well Done

In 2008, Aaron's wife Kimberly, saw an ad to apply as a contestant on season 4 of the Food Network's The Next Food Network Star.  He beat out thousands of contestants to be the host of his own show, Big Daddy's House.  Aaron says his cooking was influenced by his father's love of big portions and his mother's fondness of cooking with spices.  From family favorites -- like macaroni and cheese to shepherds pie --  Aaron adds his own flair to every dish he makes. He collaborated with the culinary producer from his show and taste-tested the recipes from his cookbook on family and friends. 

Aaron has suggestions for great dishes to prepare during football season.  Aaron will prepare: Turkey Sliders w/Grilled Peppers, Onion and Smoked Cheddar, page 87; Taco Chicken Pizza, page 46; Coconut-Ginger Chicken Skewers w/ Sriracha-Honey Butter, page 43 and 203; Chilled Taco Loco Rice, page 158; and Candy Bar Cookies, page 207.
While Aaron has a passion for cooking and serving up food with big, bold flavors, these are not his greatest passion.  His greatest passion is to serve God through his gifts and talents.  His desire is to see the lost won to Christ and one day hear his Heavenly Father say, “Well done My good and faithful servant.”  However this wasn’t always the case.  Aaron was active as a child growing up in church.  He participated in Sunday school and sang in the youth choir but strayed during his adolescence.  Then in 1999 he started going to church in New Jersey and rededicated his life to Christ. 
Aaron grew up in a large family in Camden, NJ. His passion for cooking started when he was 4 when he started baking cakes with his sister's Easy Bake oven. He even started selling the cookies and cakes he baked. At 13, Aaron volunteered in the kitchen at Cooper Hospital University. After that, he worked in various casual and fine dining restaurants. In 2003, Aaron opened up McCargo's Restaurant and operated it for 3 years. He also served as the executive VIP catering chef at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.

Aaron dedicated his cookbook to his eldest son, Joshua.  Joshua, now 17, got caught up in the streets and made some bad decisions.  While Aaron was competing on The Next Food Network Star, Joshua ran away and got more involved with the wrong crowd.  As a result, he participated in some crimes that left him incarcerated in juvenile detention until 2012.  “He’s a good kid and was helping out in the restaurant.  Josh loved cooking,” says Aaron. “I know his talent is in cooking.  I will never give up on him.”

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