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Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011

New Armenian Menu From Sanford's Rising Star Chef

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Justin Aprahamian, chef de cuisine at Sanford Restaurant (1547 N. Jackson St.), achieved national recognition this spring as a finalist for Best Chef: Midwest and semi-finalist for Rising Star of the Year at the James Beard Awards—fine dining's answer to the Oscars. Aprahamian started in his uncle's catering business at age 12 and grew up with stories about the importance of food in his Armenian heritage. "A big part was the power it had to bring people together," he says. For the month of September, Aprahamian is creating an Armenian menu at Sanford, offered Monday through Friday for $49. The courses include grilled eggplant stuffed with mint, raisins and pine nuts; sorrel and lentil soup with cherry tomatoes, tarragon and candied garlic; braised chuck and grilled tongue of beef with bell peppers and toasted bulgur; and semolina walnut cake with preserved cherries and walnut ice cream. According to Aprahamian, putting a gourmet spin on family recipes passed down through the generations was simple. "It's very soulful," he says of the dishes. "It's easy for me to relate to and pass that joy on to our guests."
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