Owner/ Head Chef
For San Gabriel Valley native Aaron Melendrez, it all started in his family's kitchen. He would stand there as a young boy watching his Abuelita and TÍas prepare traditional Mexican dishes while he soaked in the flavors, scents, and recipes of his heritage. This immersive experience would later influence his signature approach to creating cocktails and beverage programs all over the city. Melendrez got his start in some of L.A.'s best restaurants: the Soho House West Hollywood, Gordon Ramsey's at the London Hotel during its Michelin starred tenure, and the reopening of the illustrious Hotel Bel-Air. Melendrez went on to create and revitalize beverage programs for some of the best bars and restaurants in the city, including Salazar, which led to accolades such as ‘ ‘Best New Restaurant Los Angeles’. At the beginning of 2018, while working with Illegal Mezcal, Aaron became a founding partner in Va’La Hospitality. The team of industry all-stars immediately went on to work with such clients as Starz Network, Heineken, Bacardi, and Showtime’s hit show The L Word. In 2019, the team was recognized by Esquire Magazine for their work overhauling Here & Now, which secured the bar’s placement on the publication’s annual ‘Top 50 Bars in America’ list. Additional credits include restoring the historic Prince Bar in Koreatown; creating beverage programs both for Guerrilla Tacos and Escala Koreatown; and working on the team at Normandie Club when it was named one of the World’s Best Bars.