Joshua McFadden


You may know him as the head chef / owner of Ava Gene’s and Tusk in Portland (plus two new ones: Mexican-themed La Neta, and the mezcal rooftop bar Tope). Yet Joshua McFadden is so much more than just a chef. He’s a farmer, an author, and an artisan. He’s been awarded two stars from the New York Times for his work at Franny’s in Brooklyn; studied with Alice Waters in Rome; and spent time in the kitchens at icons like Momofuku, Lupa, Blue Hill and Roxanne’s.

Joshua’s food is simple, thoughtful, seasonal to the highest degree. It’s the end result of so many diverse influences – Italian, Pacific Northwest, traditional Mexican, modern American – and from his time as farm manager at Four Season Farm in coastal Maine. Joshua understands vegetables truly, madly, deeply; he’s a vegetable whisperer with the ability to turn a humble green into a thing of beauty; somebody who never stops asking what really good food is all about.

Why We Love Joshua McFadden

Joshua is a man of passion and a true creative force. His chosen medium is food, however he is equally at home in design, music, art, and architecture. Josh is a factory of ideas rushing out in rapid fire, daring us to keep up. His laugh, well, really it’s his chuckle, is as unique as it is infectious.

Joshua’s passion for veggies drove him to write Six Seasons: A New Way With Vegetables, which earned him a James Beard Award in 2018. Joshua's passion and knowledge leap off each page.

Magic pure and simple: rich flavorful moles, a handful of spiced roasted grasshoppers, a street-side tlayuda. Oaxaca's food is a passion, obsession, and inspiration for Joshua.

6 Questions with Joshua McFadden

  1. When did you first learn Mexican food is more than just a taco?

    I was living in Chicago, going to film school, and there are amazing Mexican neighborhoods, like Pilsen, with bakeries and butcher shops and tortilla factories. And of course Rick Bayless. When I was cooking, I would go to his Frontera Grill and eat once a week. And just sit at the bar by myself, order off the menu and go crazy.

  2. And when did you first try Mexican food in Mexico?

    Last year, first time. It’s a bummer that I waited so long. But it's the place I want to go to the most right now. It’s clearly being transported to another place going there. The authenticity and the flavors and the vibes are just… unbelievable. Oaxaca especially is a gift. Just the light. And the colors. And obviously the food. The seven moles are just so incredibly special.

  3. Many people know about Oaxaca's mole sauces. What other food should they try?

    I’m obsessed with tlayudas. It’s really a Oaxaca thing. A gluten-free, way healthier sandwich. I’m ecstatic about it. I just feel like it's the future of Mexican food. So being able to get in and explore that more – and turning that into a thing – is something I want to do.

  4. You have Italian and Mediterranean restaurants. Now you're opening two Mexican restaurants in Portland. Why?

    We only do food that we love. Starting with the thing I love the most. And I love Italian food. I couldn’t live without pasta. So sticking with that same family vibe, shared seasons experience – Mexican food. We don’t want to do anything other than what we want to eat.

  5. What's a "foodie"?

    You know, I never really use that word anymore. I think everyone’s interested in food now. I don’t have anyone in my life, probably because of the bubble I’m in, that’s not all about coffee, or wine, or food, or something. I think it’s just becoming more normal now. People care about the quality of food.

  6. So, if you could cook a meal for any Beatle...

    George Harrison! He’s the best Beatle. You’re kidding me, he wrote the best songs. Everyone loves John when you’re younger. No one really likes Paul. Then there’s poor Ringo. And then you realize George wrote the best songs. I’m all in on George.

Explore Upcoming Trips with our Tastemakers

Provence with Junior Borges

From buzzing cities to bucolic countryside, this is an immersive expedition into the heart of Provence, one of France's most storied food and wine regions. Join us for a true feast for the senses alongside Junior Borges.

Oaxaca with Mei Lin

Explore food, art and culture with Chef Mei Lin. Oaxaca packs in so much of the complex, fascinating culture of Mexico and we'll experience it all—at artist studios, ancient ruins, local markets, street-food stands and design-forward hotels.

Sicily & Naples with Jason Dady

The ultimate culinary and cultural experience of southern Italy with Chef Jason Dady. Connect with local winemakers and top regional chefs, explore ancient Greek ruins and climb Mt Etna—and savor flavors layered over thousands of years of history.