In the summer of 2016, Joshua McFadden and Luke Dirks formed Submarine Hospitality, which acquired ownership of Ava Gene’s and opened Tusk. McFadden is also the consulting chef at The Suttle Lodge & Boathouse. His cookbook of 225 vegetable-focused recipes, Six Seasons of Vegetables, will be published in May of 2017 by Artisan Books. Having grown up in the Midwest, Joshua came to the Pacific Northwest to attend Cordon Bleu in Portland, Oregon. After years of racking up culinary cred at the country’s top restaurants from San Francisco (Lark Creek Inn, Roxanne’s) to New York City (Momofuku, Franny’s, Blue Hill), he managed the trailblazing Four Season Farm in coastal Maine, which completely transformed his approach to cooking. It was there that he developed an appreciation for every part of the plant, root to leaf, and learned to coax the best from vegetables at their peak. And the food he started cooking as a result was nothing short of a revelation.
A true Cascadian, Luke was born in British Columbia, Canada but grew up in Oregon and Washington. After completing his degree in English Literature at Seattle Pacific University, Luke began a career in hospitality that continues to this day. In 2007, he left the restaurant world to join Stumptown Coffee Roasters as they expanded their presence into Seattle and the greater Pacific Northwest. Luke’s role as Regional Sales Director took him to Brooklyn, New York in 2009, where he guided Stumptown’s wholesale expansion on the East Coast for the next two years. In 2011, Luke got back to what he does best: managing restaurants. He joined forces with Gabriel Stulman’s Happy Cooking Hospitality and soon took on the role of Managing Partner for this budding Manhattan-based restaurant group. During Luke’s tenure, the group added Perla, Chez Sardine, and Montmartre to the already impressive roster of Joseph Leonard, Jeffrey’s Grocery, and Fedora. After six years in New York, Luke returned to Portland and teamed up with Joshua McFadden to form Submarine Hospitality, which acquired ownership of Ava Gene’s restaurant just before opening Tusk.
Chef de Cuisine
Jason's fondest memories are cooking alongside his mother and grandmother after spending a long day with his family at the beach. At thirteen years-old, he sought out his first restaurant job in a position cleaning vegetables and washing dishes. Throughout high school, he worked in restaurants, and by the time he graduated, it was clear that cooking was his true passion. From there, he went to study at New England Culinary Institute and moved to New York City upon graduating to pursue his career. After spending nearly a decade working in some of New York's most highly respected restaurants, including Picholine, Blue Hill, and Franny's, Jason decided it was time for a change of pace. He found Ava Gene's to be a great place of inspiration and opportunity and is looking forward to learning and exploring the Pacific Northwest.
Southwestern by birth and rearing, Italian by heritage, and Northwestern by preference, Douglas Derrick has found his home in Portland's thriving restaurant scene. He obtained a bachelor of science degree from Northern Arizona University in Hotel and Restaurant Management in 2005. He founded the program for the charity focused ‘Negroni of the Month' and the ‘Negroni Social,’ which soon landed him the lofty title of ‘President of Negroni.' During that time he was an active board member of the Oregon Bartenders Guild as Communications Director. After a 2 years of ‘Negroni Socials,’ Derrick teamed up with Imbibe magazine and Campari to present ‘Negroni Week,’ a world-wide charity event, joining bars from all over the world in the push to raise funds for local charities. In 2015 Derrick was provided the incredible opportunity to join the management team leading the bar at Ava Gene's. Derrick is dedicated to the perseverance of slow food forged by his time in Portland. You can find him fly fishing Oregon steelhead runs when he is not crafting a food and beverage experience to remember at Ava Gene's.
Born and raised in Kansas City, MO, Brandon moved to Portland in 2004 to attend Western Culinary Institute for Hospitality and Restaurant Management. His interest in wine began in earnest while working with Will Prouty, the Wine Director at Southpark Seafood. History, geography, and the traditions of cultures around the world have always interested Brandon, and Will showed him the role that all of those things have in relation to the wine in a glass. The realization that wine is more than just a commodity, but an agricultural product representative of a people and place is what has truly drawn Brandon into the world of wine. He has been at Ava Gene’s since its opening in November 2012. Working with Dana Frank on the wine list during the restaurant’s first three years has further expanded Brandon’s appreciation for the wine of Italy. He continues to support family wineries and farmers who are stewards of their land.
Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Norsworthy went on to work in community gardens and CSA farms dedicated to food justice. She also worked in a number of restaurants prioritizing local and whole foods in the Bay Area, including a three-year stint at Pizzaiolo. She has extensive experience and a strong passion for cooking with a wood fired oven. In her spare time, she is a part of “ladies who food,” a gathering space for women in the food and local agriculture industries to share skills, talk shop, and eat together.
Originally from Eagle River, Alaska, Ross’s Sicilian grandmother nurtured a love of the Italian dinner table. After attending culinary school in Denver, Colorado, he lived in Italy for a year, where studied the country’s regional cuisines. Ross worked at the American Restaurant in Kansas City, Missouri, and then focused on farming and organic agriculture in Connecticut for two years. Ross took six months to stage at some of his favorite restaurants in the country before joining the team at Ava Gene’s in 2014.
DIRECTOR OF SERVICE
Caryn is a born and raised Oregonian who grew up loving Sunday dinners at Grandma's house and making a mess in the kitchen. Time living abroad in France further cemented her love for food, wine and hospitality. Upon her return to the states, Caryn sought out a career in the restaurant industry to align her personal and professional interests. She has a sommelier diploma and teacher certification through the International Sommelier Guild and Advanced Sommelier certification through the Court of Master Sommeliers, which help her see the industry through a new lens. She previously served as Wine Educator for McMenamins, Wine and Beverage Director at Andina, Sommelier at Shiftdrinks, and Educator for the International Sommelier Guild. When not at Ava Gene's, you can still find Caryn making a mess in her kitchen, this time one she has to clean up herself.