The Feeder: Joshua McFadden, Executive Chef/Partner, Ava Genes
Established: Ava Genes (2012)
What They Feed: Ava Genes’ Roman inspired menu is simple and rustic with an emphasis on the best local produce and meats grown and raised by Pacific Northwest farmers and ranchers.
Their Story: Born and raised in Wisconsin, Josh attended the Cordon Bleu in Portland and then set out to explore the culinary world of the US. He cooked in San Francisco at Roxanne’s and Lark Creek Inn, then off to Chicago’s North Pond, before landing in New York City at David Chang’s Momofuku, Dan Barber’s Blue Hill and eventually Brooklyn’s favorite pizza spot, Franny’s. After reading Michael Ableman’s book Fields of Plenty, he decided to take a step back from the kitchen and spend a couple of seasons at Eliot Coleman and Barbara Damrosch’s Four Season Farm in Maine, where his appreciation for farming and vegetables became even greater. After spending a year in Rome, working the gardens at Alice Waters’ Sustainable Food Project at the American Academy, he returned to Portland. In 2012 he opened Ava Gene’s along with Duane Sorenson (Stumptown Coffee) and is leading Portland’s farm-to-table dining scene with his honest, mindfully-sourced, Roman-inspired menus.
What Inspires: seed catalogues, people and farmers that really interact with the land
Praises: Bon Appetit #5 Best New Restaurant in America (2013)
Future Projects: Josh eventually wants to return to the land and have his own farm: a “think-tank” where people will be inspired to return to growing food and where children can learn through farming.
“Ayers Creek Farm has made Ava Genes a better restaurant because of the quality of their product”
“Patrice [of DeNoble Farms] grows the best celery I’ve ever had in my life”
“Be specific – find what you’re good at and focus on it”, on advice to new farmers
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