"He sees the bigger picture on how restaurants should operate," says Ava Gene's executive chef Joshua McFadden, speaking about his new chef de cuisine, Jason Hegedus. McFadden is a man who regularly refers to farmers as superheroes, so you can bet on Hegedus continuing the Ava Gene's de rigor: humble Italian cooking featuring hyper-seasonal Pacific Northwest ingredients served in a classy, buzzy SE Division dining room.
But Hegedus is also making his mark. He's been cooking at Ava Gene's since April 2015, and he recently took over his new position when former chef de cuisine Sam Smith left to open the now hotly anticipated Tusk. Hegedus has 10 years of experience cooking in New York City restaurants, including Picholine, The River Cafe, and the illustrious Blue Hill. Most recently, he cooked at Franny's in Brooklyn, where McFadden worked prior to opening Ava Gene's.
Since taking over the position, Hegedus added nightly dish specials that repeat weekly. Meatball Mondays were always a thing, but now they're joined by Lasagna Tuesdays, Rabbit Thursdays, Fish Fry Fridays, Sugo Sundays, and more. Another recent update is that any table can order the chef's tasting family-style meal for $70, so long as everyone at the table participates. Previously, the option was only offered to large parties.
"I'm able to be creative here," Hegedus tells Eater. "The food at Ava Gene's is both familiar to my experience and a little different, and Joshua and I are on the same wavelength about food. We work directly with farmers who grow produce for us, and it motivates me to prepare it in a way that isn't overdone, but really shows off the vegetables that those farmers have put so much into growing for us."
Taste it for yourself seven nights a week for dinner at 3377 SE Division.