Chatting with the Chef: Ajay Popli


A native of Oak Brook, Ill., Chef Ajay Popli has worked at Arami since June of 2013. He started as a line cook, was promoted to sous chef and has been the Chef de Cuisine since May of 2015. Prior to joining Arami, he worked at both Sushi Dokku in the West Loop as well as Slurping Turtle.  At Arami, Popli’s focus is on using high quality ingredients without obscuring them. He aims at showcasing technique and discipline when he prepares each dish and likes to experiment with new ingredients to make traditional Japanese cuisine more modern. Fortunate to grow up in a household full of good cooks, Popli has always had an interest in food. After graduating from college he accepted a job in sales and quickly realized that his passion was for the culinary industry. When he’s not busy working in the kitchen at Arami, Popli enjoys spending time exploring other restaurants in Chicago, traveling with family and friends and cooking at home. Popli has a Bachelor’s degree in history from Loyola University in Chicago. Don't miss Chef Popli at Green City Market's chef demonstration Saturday 3 at 10:30am.

What is your favorite Green City Market product? 
While I love fresh produce, my favorite product is either soy milk or tofu from Phoenix Bean.
What is your favorite thing to do in Chicago (other than shop at Green City Market, of course)? 
Dining out!  We are lucky to have so many excellent restaurants in Chicago and my list of places to eat grows every day.
What is in your fridge right now?
Onions, garlic, carrots, shrimp, cod, asparagus, pickled onions, butter, cheese, sausage, eggs, and sake.
What is one tip you have for home cooks shopping at Green City Market? 
Talk to vendors and indulge your curiosity.  If you see something cool and you don't know what you might do with it, ask the vendor and try it out at home!
What is the one food your couldn't live without?
Rice!  It has so many wonderful applications, from simple snacks to entrees.  It makes a meal complete.

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