Jason French, Ned Ludd
What They Feed:
Ned Ludd is an American Craft Kitchen based around their wood fired oven and the quality products of local and regional suppliers.
Jason grew up in the Northeast, moving around between Maryland, New York City, Connecticut and Maine. He gained an early appreciation for food and restaurants, often cooking for his family & friends at home as well as often having the privilege of dining out. Through the end of high school and through his college years he worked in restaurants & kitchens, but continued to pursue academia. After graduating with a BA he moved to New Mexico where he got a job at a restaurant and it finally clicked: he wanted to be a chef, and dove right in.
He moved home and worked in some great kitchens on the East Coast, including Sam Hayward’s Fore Street (Portland, ME) and Vidalia (Washington, DC). Jason attended culinary school at L’Academie de Cuisine in Washington D.C., he received a James Beard scholarship and graduated the top of his class. He was very motivated in school and driven to succeed, but upon graduating he realized what was important: he really just wanted to be a great cook, not necessarily the one with the most accolades. He spent some time in Boulder, Colorado as a ski bum teaching culinary school and selling wine, before making his way to Portland, Oregon.
It was here that the amazing farms, ingredients, ocean and the mountains inspired him to consider opening a restaurant. Jason spent time working in other kitchens: Vitaly Paley’s Paley’s Place, ClarkLewis and New Season’s Market. He worked hard and intentionally at making valuable connections in the community, with the farmers and producers. In 2008, at a time when the economy was terrible, finding funding to open a restaurant seemed out of the question. Until he got a call to check out an old pizza place with a wood fired oven. The landlord convinced him to sign the lease and he ran with it: building out the interior mostly with salvaged materials. He embraced the philosophy of the leader of the Luddites, keeping it simple and using just the wood fired oven and a two burner hot plate in the kitchen. Jason and Ned Ludd are the real deal: they walk the walk and talk the talk of farm-to-table dining in Portland.
In 2015, Jason French opened Elder Hall, “an Oregon gathering space utilizing the power of communal events in the pursuit of connection, camaraderie and conviviality.” The space hosts cooking & butchery classes, a children’s summer camp, small suppers, tastings & markets, lectures & meetings. It is also available for private bookings. Visit the Elder Hall website to learn more.
What Inspires: The Weather – feeling the change in barometric pressures, the changes in the seasons
“Food and access to food is the last great freedom in America”
“You’re only as good as your community”
“I like young farmers. I like their enthusiasm and zeal – but what’s the 5 year plan?”
“I always gauge a farmer by their five leaf parsley”
“A significant part of the pleasure of eating is on one’s accurate consciousness of the lives and the world from which the food comes.” — Wendell Berry
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