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Our Story

What is Aubergine? The better question is what do you want Aubergine to be? 

Owner, manager and executive chef, Colin Gregory is a master at creating experiences centered around people. 

Gregory has seen every side of the food and wine industry. He’s harvested grapes in Napa with expert winemakers. He has worked in the kitchen, foraged for his own, unique ingredients for special dishes, excelled at being a wine educator and has managed award-winning restaurants and event spaces. More than that, he approaches the craft from a place of reverence and old-school style that might be all but lost as the master chefs he trained with and learned from are all but extinct in today’s world. Yet, always an innovator, he revels in the refinement and style of modern dining. Gregory has wrapped all of this together with a passion and love for bringing people together that is infused into everything that is Aubergine. 

“I’ve always used my table to bring people together. Aubergine is the place where people come together. It’s my home, and when people walk through my door, I want them to feel like they are home as well – not guests, but cherished family and friends.” 

-- Colin Gregory, owner, manager, executive chef 

Not satisfied with the status quo, Gregory has worked tirelessly to be sure that Aubergine breaks the mold – or maybe it never had a mold in the first place. It’s a private dining experience. Like a country club, you might ask. More like the anti-country club. It’s the most uniquely inclusive, exclusive experience around. It can’t be explained. It must be experienced. 

It’s a members-only retreat that doesn’t ask you to fit into a profile – it only asks you to be yourself, even if that means discovering yourself through the food and dining experiences offered – or that you create. Let Gregory transport you somewhere else – or nowhere else – but walk in prepared to gain a different perspective on food, drink and life. It’s a perspective based on human connection being just as important of an element in a dish as the ingredients.  

Walk out the back door of Aubergine and discover an urban oasis – Gregory has cultivated a garden in what is otherwise a mundane parking lot – where you are immediately at ease and think you might want to sit for a few minutes to enjoy the freshness of the experience. Bringing farm to table in a sustainable, authentic way, he grows some of his own ingredients or forages for them to hand pick the finest specialties in nature not just because they produce exquisite dishes, or because conservation is critical to him. These are both important to Gregory. But he does it because it’s how he puts a part of himself into what he’s creating. 

And so, it’s only natural that he’s also Aubergine’s executive chef. If Gregory lights up when he’s hosting and managing, he positively glows in the kitchen. He’s at his very best when he infuses the joy brought by personally creating the food he’s serving into every part of the experience he’s offering. Come and experience it for yourself. 

Aubergine sits quietly waiting, behind a nondescript door on Grandview Avenue. Open the door and find the experience you’ve been missing. Whatever it is, it’s there. 

Mars – Aubergine’s behind the scenes sweetness 

If you’re lucky enough to spend some time in Aubergine’s kitchen, you’ll find Mars, a sous-chef in training, whose quiet kindness, light and love of food are part of her aura. She is the third part of the whole that makes Aubergine so uniquely itself. 

Coming from experiences that showed her that kitchens were stressful, frenetic places, she agreed help a friend one evening when Aubergine was looking for a new assistant. Meant to be a one-night stint because, despite her love of food, she didn’t feel welcomed or inspired by her experiences in previous jobs, she discovered a whole new world at Aubergine. And so, she stayed. 

“Everything lifted. I could have fun. I could be myself – I could give of myself – while learning – and while sharing a love of food with others.” 

Efficient and talented, she assists Gregory and provides a kind presence that adds to the feeling that Aubergine’s kitchen might be your best friend’s kitchen, or that your favorite cousin just made their most special meal for you. Watching Gregory with her is like watching a proud and protective big brother – it’s clear he enjoys teaching as much as he enjoys cooking. 

And it’s clear that the team at Aubergine together are a family inviting you to their table. 

My Aubergine: a story about how I fell in love with food and wine 

For me, there is no Aubergine without Colin Gregory. So my story starts close to 20 years ago. Barely out of college, I had my first “real” job, was living in a new city away from my family but was blessed to have friends who included me in their food adventures. One of those adventures was a relatively new concept at the time – wine and food pairings – before they were even called that – at Spagio Wine Lounge. The food and wine were always excellent – no question about it. But what brought us back over and over again was an enthusiastic wine educator: Colin Gregory. The passion and joy with which he spoke about wine and combining it with food was infectious. 

Fast forward a few years and my husband and I decided to take a trip to Napa and Sonoma to see if we really loved wine (and food!) as much as we thought we did. There seemed no better person to turn to for advice on where to visit than Colin. He did not disappoint. Not only did he send us to wineries that are, to this day, some of our all-time favorite wines and places to visit, but he gave us the story that went with them for him – his personal experiences, why these places mattered to him. We fell deeply in love with Sonoma on that trip. But we also learned that food and wine can – and should – be more than nourishment or drink. They are experiences. Whether it’s because Colin sent us to California already seeing it through the eyes of his experience or because we were open to seeing it that way because of what Colin taught us about food and wine, I probably won’t ever know. But I do know that it awakened in my husband and I something special that helped us bond as partners with a shared interest and joy in learning about food and wine and enjoying them together. 

This led us to join Aubergine – never in my life did I imagine joining a private dining club – but it fed (literally) our passion for food and wine. One day, we walked in and were greeted by an old friend. After striking out and learning more about all facets of the restaurant industry, Colin was back as the manager, and now the owner and executive chef of Aubergine. 

I’ve had every experience you can imagine at Aubergine. Actually, it’s more than that, it’s that I’ve had every experience I have needed at Aubergine. I’ve had private, intimate dinners. I’ve attended wine dinners where we walked in not knowing anyone else and walked out having met new friends. We’ve sat on the patio late into the night simply enjoying life and good company – with people we had just met and with people who have become friends through Aubergine. We’ve called Colin needing a casual night away from home and have been invited for cozy dinners where we sat in the kitchen and ate and talked with Colin as he cooked for us. When the pandemic changed everyone’s lives irrevocably and restaurant dining threatened to be a thing of the past, the first and only place we felt safe sitting down for dinner was Aubergine – mainly because it has always felt more like home than going out. We have chosen to ring in the New Year and celebrate Valentine’s Day and any number of special events or birthdays at Aubergine. We always walk out having had a unique and memorable experience. Whether I’ve been happy, excited, or needed a night to let the rest of the world fade to the background for a few hours, Aubergine has provided it. Colin has made sure of it, because he is Aubergine. It’s his heart and soul and joy and passion. And it is reflected in everything he does. 

That’s what Aubergine is for me. I can’t say what Aubergine is for you. It’s what you make it.

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