April Hutchinson A cruise can provide plenty of storytelling currency, especially in the Mediterranean, where one day you could be roaming the gardens of Sicily and soon after on the same trip, taking a private cooking class at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Sorrento.
Thu, Jan 9, Photo by Michelle Le George Aviet is a carpenter, electrician, plumber, janitor, cabinet-maker, painter and visionary -- and the owner of Chez TJ in Mountain View, one of only four restaurants on the Peninsula to earn coveted Michelin stars. Born in Iran to an Armenian mother and a French-English father, life did not start off so promisingly for Aviet.
His father worked for Royal Dutch Shell and was trapped in a tanker for days. He suffered psychological issues and withdrew from the family for a decade shortly before his son George was born. Aviet suffered a serious injury at age 6 when a piece of metal from a toy ruptured his back and exited his stomach.
He spent nearly two years in the hospital and many months at home convalescing. During that time, he was immersed in the cooking of his mother and grandmother who hailed from the Caspian Sea area.
His father reemerged when Aviet was 10 and paid for his private school education. Intheir property confiscated, the family fled Iran after the Islamic Revolution. It was there that Aviet found his life's passion. He loved the restaurant business and worked in every capacity at Pear William.
To make ends meet, he also worked late nights at a doughnut shop in Redwood City. In the early s, McCombie proposed that the two should open a restaurant. The partners traveled to Europe and ate their way around France, absorbing what they both adored about French cuisine -- the menus, the ambiance, the use of local seasonal ingredients -- and came home with a plan.
They would offer prix fixe dinners at three price points, depending on the number of courses. With their wives, they scraped together enough money to launch Chez TJ in November of Opened on a shoestring, McCombie and his wife lived in the converted era house on Villa Street.
Then, Aviet and his wife moved in.
As word spread, the entire space was converted to restaurant, happily evicting the partners. InMcCombie, aged 44, died of a heart attack. By agreement, Aviet took over the restaurant and needed to quickly learn not only how to run the kitchen, but to devise a plan for buying out the McCombie estate's interest.
That's where the real story of Chez TJ begins. Aviet knew what he wanted from his kitchen. He set the bar high and identified chef and staff that would carry the restaurant to that higher level.
InChez TJ was awarded one star by the French Michelin Guide, the most dependable and respected of worldwide restaurant critics.Discover the innovative world of Apple and shop everything iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Mac, and Apple TV, plus explore accessories, entertainment, and expert device support.
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