Farm Spirit, a modernist vegan restaurant that has piqued worldwide interest and acclaim in Portland, Oregon, has promoted a new chef from within the organization. Aaron Adams, executive chef and owner, has moved into the role of business owner, entrepreneur and culinary mentor with Kei Ohdera, 26, now serving as chef at the restaurant. Kei has worked at Farm Spirit since 2016 and will be responsible for the day-to-day menu development. Aaron will continue to oversee business operations for Farm Spirit and his new powerlifting gym, Strength Union, which opened in March.
Kei brings a formidable background in fine dining to Farm Spirit. A native of Ichikawa, Japan, he also spent part of his childhood in Mauritania, Africa, where one of his earliest childhood memories was scooping up handfuls of couscous around a communal table. The youngest of three boys and son of two busy working parents, he was doing much of the cooking in the household by age twelve. After attending CIA in New York, he worked at Nihonryori RyuGin in Tokyo and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, both named on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Ready for a new challenge, he followed his brother’s move to Portland in 2016, and soon began working at Aviary under chef Sarah Pliner. Enticed by a farm-focused approach to fine dining and the spirit of the communal table from his childhood, he teamed up Aaron later that year. Today, his biggest thrill is fostering the relationships he’s built with local farmers who continue to challenge his creativity with the new and undiscovered varieties of Pacific Northwest produce.
“Kei brings a fine-dining sensibility and level of creativity that never ceases to amaze me,” says Aaron. “He also has a tremendous work ethic and has fully embraced our model of upholding our local farmers, their produce, and creating a fair and equitable work environment for our staff. He’s been a great fit since he joined our staff and I can’t think of a better lieutenant.”