Who We are

Born in New York, Aaron was adopted and raised by white Jewish parents in Pennsylvania, later to reunite with his birth family (a Black Jehovah’s Witness father and a white Irish Catholic mother).  Afa came to the states in 1994, as an immigrant from Azerbaijan, born in Moscow, Russia, of mixed roots (Jewish and Azeri).  Our love of food comes from a kaleidoscope of early flavors, as diverse, bizarre and rich as our heritage.

We met at the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance as students, in the mid-90s.  There, we developed a close friendship, which always revolved around music and food. 

As a student, Aaron founded the Sphinx Organization, which has now become a multimillion-dollar award-winning NGO that transforms lives through the power of diversity in the arts.  He has gone on to become an internationally recognized leader, host of the nationally-broadcast Arts Engines show (in collaboration with Detroit Public Television), a published author (including The Entrepreneurial Artist), visual and performing artist, social entrepreneur and now, a tenured professor of arts leadership and entrepreneurship at our alma mater. Afa became involved with Sphinx from the early days, having held a number of leadership roles and eventually running the organization for the past 5 years as its President & Artistic Director.  She also lectures on DEI and arts leadership at Roosevelt University in Chicago as well as the University of Michigan, while serving as an industry strategist and frequent speaker.

Our bond is built on companionship, respect and unconditional love.  Throughout our lives, we have collaborated on numerous creative professional and personal projects and engineered a partnership that continues to grow daily.  Our shared love of food began with the curious discoveries of various ethnic dishes, followed up by explorations and experiments in our home kitchen.  Our passion for food today manifests in continuous designing and redesigning of dishes we fall in love with, taste anew or try making at home.  Some are inspired by our own upbringing, others by travel, conversation and research.  Our connection to music stems from childhood (we are both trained classical violinists by trade), later nourished by our work in this sphere.  While the foundation of our musical upbringing is classical, we both love hip-hop, blues, jazz, world, country and folk music, and beyond. 

SonoGrub marries our love of food and music with a true passion for life’s daily pleasures. We are devoted to connecting and sharing our many experiences through the stories we weave, record and pass along to our friends, family and extended community.  On a weekly basis, we cook for and share food with friends, neighbors, our sons Noah and Amani (both of whom have highly sophisticated palettes and have served as sous-chefs in our kitchen) and, of course, each other.  We think of ways that music from the 60s pairs with vegan food, while Afro-Cuban jazz brings out the best in the Caribbean flavors we serve.  From Bach to Tupac, Peter, Paul and Mary, Italian Sanremo of the 80s and Etta James, our delicious life has always contained the best soundtracks.  Sonogrub shares the stories that melt them all together and make you pause to enjoy life’s every day passions. We hope that our stories may help fuel your journey today!