Aaron McCloud, the one-time violin virtuoso who wound up mastering the culinary arts instead, died Sunday following a prolonged battle with cancer and, most recently, pneumonia.
He was 38.
This past October McCloud married Linda Szewczyk, a special events manager at Occidental Grill & Seafood; the two previously worked together at Cedar (she handled marketing and events while McCloud ran the kitchen).
She told Eater that McCloud was diagnosed on Feb 22, 2016 and underwent chemotherapy, radiation, surgery and immunotherapy. McCloud received treatment at the hospital at the University of Michigan, and later migrated to Johns Hopkins Hospital to be closer to home.
The Michigan native became interested in the restaurant world while playing gigs at the Gandy Dancer in his hometown, Ann Arbor. That burning curiosity only grew as he rose through the ranks — starting out as a proverbial dishwasher — in jobs all around the country.
Armed with a dual degree in marketing and hotel, restaurant and travel administration from the University of Massachusetts, McCloud embarked on a career trajectory that included serving as saucier at the award-winning Victoria & Albert’s in Walt Disney World’s Grand Floridian Resort, chef de cuisine at the since-shuttered Aster restaurant, executive chef of the now-defunct Vintage Restaurant Group, as well as stints at the Inn at Perry’s Cabin on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, time spent downtown at Cedar, and his most recent stop in Northern Virginia at Clyde’s Willow Creek Farm.
Jill Collins, a publicist who worked closely with McCloud, said nothing could dampen his desire to entertain.
“When I last visited him in the hospital it didn’t matter how full of pain medication he was, he wanted to talk about what was going on in the D.C. restaurant scene,” she said. “We talked, not about his illness, but about new restaurant concepts and interesting wines. He was so passionate about the industry and his craft.”
Update: Viewings for McCloud will be held at Muehlig Funeral Chapel in Ann Arbor, Mich., Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The funeral is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday. Donations may be made to: The Aaron Leonard McCloud Memorial Scholarship C/O Interlochen Center for the Arts, PO Box 199, Interlochen, MI 49643.
Collins said a reception will follow at Gandy Dancer, and that a separate memorial is being arranged in Northern Virginia this May.