Aaron Martinez Exits Cinder House, Josh Adams Named New Chef de Cuisine

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Josh Adams is now chef de cuisine at Cinder House. - COURTESY OF CINDER HOUSE
  • COURTESY OF CINDER HOUSE
  • Josh Adams is now chef de cuisine at Cinder House.

Cinder House has a new leader in the kitchen.

The restaurant on the eighth floor of the Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis (999 North Second Street, 314-881-5800) announced yesterday that Josh Adams has replaced Aaron Martinez. Martinez was formerly the executive chef of the restaurant, while Adams, his replacement, has been named chef de cuisine. Martinez has returned to Vicia (4260 Forest Park Avenue, 314-553-9239), where he worked for a couple of months after returning to St. Louis in 2018.

Martinez joined Cinder House in July after a successful stint as executive chef at Ben Poremba's Elaia and Olio. When reached by phone today, Martinez says he's excited to get back into the kitchen at Vicia and also begin work on plans for a restaurant of his own in town.

"[Cinder House] just wasn't a good fit; I realized it about a month and a half in," Martinez says. "I'm helping out chef Michael [Gallina] at Vicia right now because he's been over at Winslow's [Table] a lot while they get it off the ground. I'm helping them out during this transition and then I'll be opening up my own spot hopefully within a year or a year and a half."



A resident of Florissant, Martinez says he'd like to open a place in north county that offers a different kind of dining experience to locals.

"There's good food [in north county], but there's not a lot of options," Martinez says. "There's a lot of chain restaurants. I think there's a lack of local restaurants in the neighborhood we live in, and that's where I'm looking to open. There's Cugino's and a lot of Thai restaurants that are great, there's bar food, but there's not a crazy amount of new things opening."

Although he's spent much of his career in fine dining so far, Martinez says he wouldn't take that direction with a restaurant of his own.

"I love fine dining through and through, but that's not what I'd be catering to," Martinez says. "I want to have polished service and very approachable food done in different ways, but simple. If we're doing well, we could close the restaurant down on a Saturday night and do tasting menus, the business will dictate that."

Martinez says he plans to host pop-up dinners in 2020 as a way to do research and development for his future concept; he mentions that he's already been in talks with the owners of Hendel's (599 St. Denis Street, Florissant; 314-837-2304) in Florissant about potentially hosting the dinners there.

Aaron Martinez has left his post as executive chef at Cinder House. - COURTESY OF CINDER HOUSE
  • COURTESY OF CINDER HOUSE
  • Aaron Martinez has left his post as executive chef at Cinder House.

As Martinez plans his next move, Adams is celebrating his own new chapter.

Originally a comic book artist, Adams made a snap decision to enroll in culinary school after experiencing a chef’s table dinner at Charlie Trotter's in Chicago. He went on to pursue culinary degrees at Illinois Central College and the French Culinary Institute in New York.

“I quickly realized that every dish told a story, from the selection of ingredients to the preparation and visual display — I was immediately hooked,” Adams said in a release.

Growing up on a farm in Princeville, Illinois, Adams is intimately familiar with sourcing the freshest local ingredients possible for his kitchen. After finding his culinary calling, Adams worked his way through restaurants in New York and across the Midwest, but his time at Vie in Western Springs, Illinois, was his most formative training for leading a kitchen.

In 2009, Adams opened his own restaurant, June, in Peoria, Illinois. The now-shuttered spot garnered him two James Beard Award semifinalist nominations, for Rising Star Chef of the Year in 2010 and Best Chefs in America in 2012. When the chance to work with James Beard award-winning chef Gerard Craft came about at the world-class hotel, it was too good for Adams to pass up.

"The level of care for guests' well-being, the aesthetics and commitment to excellence is mind blowing — I’m honored to work with chef Craft and further elevate Cinder House,” Adams said. 

Craft is similarly excited to begin working with Adams in this new role.

“I have known Josh for a few years and am thrilled to welcome him to Cinder House — I'm excited to see what he brings to our live-fire cooking,” Craft said.

Follow Liz Miller on Twitter at @lizzaymillah. We are always hungry for tips and feedback. Email the author at liz@riverfronttimes.com.
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