Aaron McCargo Jr.

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Aaron McCargo Jr.
Chefs Move to Schools (4948640007).jpg
Aaron McCargo, Jr., Jackie Craig & Carla Hall
Born (1971-07-22) July 22, 1971 (age 46)[1]
Camden, New Jersey, U.S.[1]
Residence Cherry Hill, New Jersey, U.S.
Occupation Chef, Television personality and television show host
Years active 1993-present
Television The Next Food Network Star
Big Daddy's House
Spike TV's Bar Rescue
Spouse(s) Kimberly Cosby
Children 3
Website http://www.aaronmccargo.com

Aaron McCargo Jr. (born July 22, 1971) is an American chef, TV personality and TV show host who is best known as the winner of the fourth season of the Food Network's reality television show, The Next Food Network Star.[2]

He has a preference for meats and bold, spicy flavors, and avoids overly complex recipes. He calls the food he cooks "soul food," but with multiple cultural influences. Big Daddy's House features members of his family as guests, and each recipe was advertised to utilize five or fewer ingredients (although they usually include more than five).

Early life and education[edit]

McCargo was born and also grew up in Camden, New Jersey, and is one of six children. He became interested in cooking at age four, when he began baking cakes in his sister's Easy-Bake Oven. He began cooking in his family's kitchen at age seven. He was encouraged by his father, Aaron McCargo, Sr., who is a fine cook, and his mother, Julia, who has a preference for food with a great deal of flavor. He first studied cooking in a home economics class at Pyne Point Middle School in Camden, and began cooking as a Junior Volunteer in the kitchen of Cooper University Hospital in Camden at age 13. He took further cooking classes at Camden High School, graduating in 1989.[3] He attended the Academy of Culinary Arts at Atlantic Cape Community College in Mays Landing, New Jersey but did not complete the program, leaving after one year to assist his mother with the rearing of his brothers.

Professional life[edit]

Following his graduation from high school, McCargo took a month-long cake cooking class at Wilton Cake in Audubon, New Jersey and began selling cakes and cookies throughout Camden. He has worked in nine restaurants in New Jersey (some while doing on-the-job training during his year at the Academy of Culinary Arts at Atlantic Cape Community College), including T.G.I. Friday's, Steak 38, Holmes Lounge, the Marlton Tavern, and the former Harbour League Club in Camden, and the Armadillo Steakhouse & Saloon in Edgewater Park, New Jersey as sous chef; he also worked at the Armadillo Steakhouse & Saloon in Barrington, New Jersey. Aaron was introduced to the Burlington County, New Jersey area when he opened Citrus in Westampton Township, New Jersey with Ian Russo.[citation needed][4]

He opened his own restaurant, McCargo's Creative Cuisine, in 2003. The restaurant was located across from the U.S. Federal Courthouse on Cooper Street, in Camden near Rutgers University in Camden, and closed in 2005. He has worked as an executive chef, including at the catering division of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he oversaw approximately forty jobs per day. He left his job there on June 6, 2008 due to his demanding television schedule.

In 2008, McCargo entered the fourth season of Food Network's The Next Food Network Star at the urging of his wife. He beat out 3,990 other entrants as the winner of that year's competition, the finale of which aired on July 27, 2008. He was awarded a six-episode commitment for his own cooking show on Food Network. His show, Big Daddy's House, premiered on August 3, 2008 and ended June 18, 2011 with a total of 76 episodes. The show was ranked as the number one “in the kitchen” weekend show during its initial six-episode run.[5] Food Network renewed the show for a total of six seasons. Since then, he has made many public appearances, and is particularly interested in teaching young people to cook and encouraging them to follow their dreams. McCargo's own dreams are to open his own restaurant on the Camden Waterfront and to introduce a line of soups.

McCargo makes frequent guest appearances of Spike TV's Bar Rescue.


McCargo lives in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. He has a Roman Catholic background.[6] His wife is named Kimberly (née Cosby) and they have three children.

McCargo has a strong Christian faith and is a member of The Living Hope Christian Center in Pennsauken Township, New Jersey. He enjoys playing tennis and watching boxing, as well as playing the drums and listening to music.[7]


  1. ^ a b "Birth references results for Aaron McCargo, Jr". FamilySearch.org. Retrieved June 7, 2017. 
  2. ^ "Aaron McCargo Jr. Bio". Food Network. Retrieved 21 November 2010. 
  3. ^ Callahan, Kevin (8 June 2008). "Competitor stirs love of cooking". Courier-Post. 
  4. ^ "Next Food Star Get Him While He's Hot". Philadelphia Inquirer. 29 July 2008. Archived from the original on July 30, 2008. 
  5. ^ "Aaron McCargo Jr". aaronmccargo.com. Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 21 November 2010. 
  6. ^ "Interview: Aaron McCargo Jr. from The Food Network Star". FANBOLT.com. 30 July 2008. Archived from the original on 29 January 2009. 
  7. ^ "Aaron McCargo Jr. Bio". Food Network. Retrieved 21 November 2010. 

External links[edit]