Humans of Humanim: Meet Chef Aharon

Meet Chef Aharon Denrich, the executive chef of City Seeds, Humanim’s social enterprise. With six years under his belt at Humanim, Aharon has played a pivotal role in every aspect of City Seeds’ operations – from envisioning innovative programs and managing budgets to curating exquisite menus and supporting kitchen operations in Harford County.

Aharon is a veteran chef and restaurant owner. He trained at the world-renowned Culinary Institute of America in New York state and spent five years working in New York’s Hudson Valley. After moving back to Baltimore, he embarked on a culinary journey, establishing two restaurants. The first, Timber Creek Tavern and Restaurant, underwent a remarkable transformation from a biker bar in Kingsville to an upscale dining destination.

In 2004, he acquired Mr. Charles Market, a convenience store and market with a rich history dating back 200 years. Aharon started offering gourmet-to-go items and full-service catering services as well as a wine shop at the historic location. A key focus was hiring people with developmental disabilities, partnering with nonprofits such as Chimes and the Harbour School.

“We had 30 people come through my store in paid positions. We would train them, and they would go off to work in other restaurants and cafes,” Aharon says. “It was something that always called to me.”

Aharon knew firsthand how important it is to create opportunities for people with disabilities. “I have dyslexia, dysgraphia and ADHD and went to special schools growing up. It’s a way to pay it forward, and it always appealed to me to have that kind of impact on that community.”

Following the sale of the market, Aharon transitioned to Humanim and is now deeply invested in City Seeds. “It was the culmination of everything I had been working on the past 15 to 20 years; it’s a place where I could put it all in to practice in one spot and develop programs based on that.”

Three years ago, as the COVID pandemic hit, Aharon began teaching classes focused on cooking and life skills for participants in the Humanim developmental disabilities programs. The classes provide basic skills and foster both community and self-reliance.

Aharon is proud of City Seeds’ track record of also hiring people with barriers to employment which include individuals with disabilities and those who have come out of incarceration. “We are a one-stop shop for them to learn how to be in the hospitality industry,” he says.

Outside of work, Aharon and his wife are busy with their five kids, ages 4 to 22. He is also helping his wife cope with major health challenges.

Yet, despite life’s complexities, Aharon finds profound fulfillment at City Seeds.

“This is one of the only jobs I’ve ever had that I look forward to coming to,” he says. “It drives me to want to do better for the clients we serve and do better for our community. I want to help them, so they can do better to help themselves and other people in whatever capacity they can. It’s so much more rewarding than any other job I’ve ever had, and I am grateful for the opportunity to make a change in others’ lives for the better.”