David Padberg began his cooking career after a summer road trip to Alaska, where he worked through the salmon season with college friends. After returning to his hometown of Kansas City, he started cooking, first as a baker, then as a pastry chef, gradually finding his way into the savory kitchen. He developed his skills at the American Restaurant under James Beard award winning chefs, Michael Smith and Debbie Gold. They inspired him to travel and collaborate with other chefs across the country.
In 2001, David traveled to Switzerland, working in an alpine chalet for six months. From there, he explored the culinary landscapes of Italy, France, England and Ireland on a working tour of Europe. The food traditions of Western Europe left a lasting influence on David’s culinary heritage.
After returning to the States, David moved to Portland to work with Cory Schreiber at Wildwood. The bounty of the Pacific Northwest rivaled anything he had seen in Europe. At Wildwood, he met many of the farmers and ranchers that he would form long standing relationships with. The following year, he joined forces with his long time college friend, Jason Owens and formed Axis Supper Club, which hosted five course dinners once a week in Jason’s garden. David and Jason both enjoyed gardening much of their own produce and showcasing the harvest for the Supper Club. They went on to host dinners and brunches at various locations around Portland.
In 2003, David took the sous-chef job for the opening of Clarklewis, The Oregonian’s “2004 Restaurant of the Year” after only four months. Under Morgan Brownlow, the cuisine had a heavy Italian influence in the style of the legendary chef Paul Bertolli. From there, David was hired by Scott Dolich to be the chef of Park Kitchen in 2005. Park Kitchen has since become widely respected for its innovative seasonal style. David continued his culinary tours of Europe and Japan to expand the scope of techniques and creativity at the restaurant. David left Park Kitchen after eight years as executive chef to open Raven & Rose in the historic Ladd Carriage House in downtown Portland. The restaurant focused on classic American fare and drew inspiration from the traditions of the British Isles and colonial America.
In recent years, David has begun food writing to share the great stories of forgotten traditions, great winemakers, ranchers, cheesemakers, foragers, farmers, fishmongers, and the many other fascinating people, places, and foods that make their way to our plates. David still enjoys gardening and foraging wild plants and mushrooms to enjoy at the table.