Having met back in 2013 at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Kei and John both shared the farm to table experience as closely as one can ever dream to working the meat line inside one of Americas greatest restaurants.
After leaving and thinking we might never see each other again because of each’s own ambition, we reunited here in Portland, Oregon. Immediately we began sharing this same passion and goal of Kei Ohdera’s decision to deepen his life’s work into sourcing from ALL of Oregon’s agriculture and specifically the fabled retired dairy cow.
Moved to Portland in 2017
I grew up in Missoula, Montana spending most of my summers in the mountains and most my winter- also in the mountains. I learned to hunt and butcher from necessity when I was ten years old practicing gaming to feed the family of nine. That view point has always directed my career path and morals of conscious eating and sustainability.
After finishing a culinary program at the University of Montana’s Culinary Institute in Missoula I moved to Charlottesville, Virginia to get a fresher look on my career. There I began working at a small restaurant and whole animal butcher shop - both invigorating my desire to learn more. That passion drove me up to Sleepy Hollow, New York where I began working at Dan Barber’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns. At Stone Barns I learned respect. I learned how less is more when handling harvested vegetables from that morning. What it means roasting a spring lamb that I had helped the farmers birth only seven months prior. It was this sort of experience that has kept me in food and craft butchery.
I left Blue Hill to work for Ben Turley and Brent Young at the Meat Hook in Brooklyn, New York. Learning whole animal butchery of large ruminants and fresh sausage production of meat from farms that practiced excellent animal husbandry. A whole new sense of invigoration. I never wanted to leave the business. I had the chance to clean, seam, grind and stuff, smoke and cook everything that was being sold from behind their counter. But as careers naturally progress I moved back to Charlottesville, Virginia to open up restaurants and manage for the same chef and butcher I had originally worked for years earlier.
Moving from production to management isn’t always an easy transition and certainly was a learning curve for myself. We opened Fry’s Spring Station in 2016 and built a brand that has become the staple of that neighborhood. I delved into menu costing and purchasing as well as hiring and customer services. From there I helped re-stabilize the companies sister business, Ivy Provisions. Once again delving into sandwich production and recipe development. Luckily from my previous jobs provisions of Rock Barns Butchery in Nelson County, VA.
About a year and a half later I wanted to move closer to my family out west and chose the infamous Portland, Oregon as a landing pad. I picked up work at Olympia Provisions but moved on not long after to drink beer and occasionally work with Kei Ohdera. Oh yeah and plan to open a butchers shop.
PASTURE has turned into a culmination of my life’s work. It’s a breaking point of the wave that has been my career. My beliefs and craft as an individual in community, state and even our country has developed a passion to bring together the symbiosis that already existed. To re-instate the sense of connection we deserve and all have here. Humane and ethical animal husbandry is the best way to showcase our humanity and values. Procuring the BEST Oregon product and preparing food for the BEST Oregon individuals is what Pasture wants to achieve as much as I do.
**Taste Something Real***
Moved to Portland in 2015
I was born in Ichikawa, Japan right outside of Tokyo and spent my early childhood there enjoying the benefits of home cooked meals from my grandmother. My fascination with food and dining truly began around a communal bowl of couscous on the western coast of Mauritania. I spent a year here as a young boy with my family, and the experiences of eating with our hands and using compacted balls of couscous to sop up the delicious stews and preserves sparked in me a desire to work with my hands around foods.
A few years later, after my family and I had moved back to Japan, we picked up again and moved to Iowa here in the mid-west. We spent a few years here among meat centric, starch bound foods, but the remainder of my childhood was spent in Connecticut where I learned to love the relationship between farms and restaurants during the popularization of the Farm to table mentality.
Since I was a teenager, I have always cooked and baked at home while working odd jobs in restaurants and bakeries learning as much as I can. Although, it wasn't until I left college that I pursued the culinary industry more seriously. I worked at an upscale Farm to Table restaurant in New Haven, before attending the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. Unfulfilled, I left the CIA to do a stage at Ryugin in Tokyo with Chef Yamamoto. When I returned to the states, I began working at Blue Hill at Stone Barns under my most influential mentor Dan Barber. During my time here as the meat cook, I worked with amazing product and gained a much deeper appreciation for the role of the farmer. This was the first time in my life that I tried retired dairy cows and milk fed veal among other amazing animals.
After Blue Hill, I helped a friend open a restaurant in New Jersey then moved to Portland, Oregon. I became the Head Chef at Farm Spirit which is a chef's counter restaurant that offers plant based tasting menus focusing on the agriculture within a hundred miles of the restaurant. Working within the confines of this unique concept, I learned and grew with my love of vegetables.
Having focused so much of my attention on working solely with plants, I have felt a yearning to return to work with meat product. My memory of that one dairy cow from my days at Blue Hill is one that I have since shared many times and has always stuck with me. Talking with Johnny about the idea of featuring this incredible product led to the initial thought of opening up a whole animal butcher shop. My goal with PASTURE is to offer high quality products to the Portland market. Using our combined 20 years working in the industry and fine dining, we plan to share our knowledge through the butcher case and our palates through our sandwich shop. We want to focus on doing things the right way when it comes to smoking, curing, and creating all in house using meat from the hardworking farmers in Oregon.
Through Pasture I hope to share my ethics as they pertain to the sourcing of food. For me this means that the animals spend their whole life on the pasture, enjoying their lives doing what animals should be doing. It also means, that the farmers who spend their lives working incredibly hard ever day are compensated fairly. By creating the relationships with our consumers, our farmers, and the animals, we will offer a high quality product that is delicious and sustainable for everyone along the way.