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About


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About


Our story can be told through our pasta: 

it's milled, extruded, rolled, cut,

cooked, sauced, and eaten in house.

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Our Crew


Our Crew


Joshua McFadden

Executive Chef & Partner

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.

Luke Dirks

Partner

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.

Nicole Norsworthy

Executive Sous Chef

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.

 

Joshua McFadden

Executive Chef & Partner

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Luke DIRKS

Partner

Nicole Norsworthy

Executive Sous Chef

 

Ross Effinger

Executive Sous Chef

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.

Caryn Benke

Beverage Director

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.

Sam Ryan

General Manager

Sam grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, where his first job was bussing tables at a local diner. College took him to New York where after a brief venture into desk jobs he realized how much he missed the pace and spirit of thug life. That return to restaurants sent him to places like Per Se, Bouchon Bakery, Frankies 570 and Momofuku Má Pêche and introduced him to his future wife, Jean. He left New York in 2015 for an opportunity in Austin, Texas as the AGM of Jeffrey's and the Josephine House. In February 2017, he moved to Portland to be a part of Ava Gene's.

 

Ross Effinger

Executive Sous Chef

CARYN BENKE

Beverage Director

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Sam Ryan

General Manager

 

Graham Files

Bar Manager

Graham was born and raised in the Portland area, graduated with a degree in psychology from Reed College, and then got a job at his local bar. He continued to bartend in Portland and then overseas, working everywhere from dive bars and pubs to high volume clubs to speakeasies in Australia, Spain, and England. In 2011, he moved to New York City and began working at Franny's of Brooklyn, where he joined a vibrant community and later helped friends open new restaurants, working with talented chefs and new ingredients to create beverage programs for everything from Italian trattorias to new American restaurants to Japanese izakayas. Graham's excited to be back in Portland, a city that is both familiar and dynamic. And he's thrilled to be the Bar Manager at Ava Gene's, where the staff, the food, and the clientele--like the alchemy and synergy of bartending--reinforces that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Jacob Brenner

Sous Chef

Originally from Santa Fe, New Mexico, Jacob grew up cooking with his mom, who got him hooked on spicy foods at a young age. In high school, he studied abroad in Cádiz, Spain and fell in love with the excitement of foreign travel, especially the discovery of new foods. While studying Spanish at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, he spent more time abroad in Chile and Mexico. After Graduation he got his first cooking job at Clarklewis. In the fall of 2013, he discovered Ava Gene's and has been part of the family ever since.

 
 

Graham Files

Bar Manager

Jacob Brenner

Sous Chef