There’s a feeling at King Estate that’s undeniable. It’s a passion for excellence that is apparent with each person you meet, and is especially evident concerning the most recent promotion of Ben Nadolny to Executive Chef at King Estate.
Executive Chef Ben Nadolny began his King Estate career as Sous Chef in 2007, shortly after the restaurant opened its doors, and was promoted to Executive Chef in 2012. His enthusiasm for seasonal, local, wild, and sustainably managed ingredients perfectly complements King Estate’s philosophy of pairing Northwest wines with regional food products. “I believe Ben is the hardest working, most inspired chef in the Northwest, and a very creative culinary thinker as well,” noted Ed King, CEO at King Estate.
Growing up in the Midwestern state of Indiana, Nadolny began his career in his mother’s kitchen. “My earliest memories are playing with pots and pans my Mother gave me instead of toys. I still have my great grandmother’s pot which I cook with to this day.” His passion evolved throughout his teen years as he worked in various dining establishments, each time enhancing his culinary knowledge and managerial skill sets. At age 16, he earned his first assistant management position, and at 18 years old his first Head Chef opportunity, both in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He moved to the east coast to further develop his repertoire. By his early twenties, he knew his life’s dream was to work in the culinary field and particularly the kitchen, leading a team of talented individuals and creating a remarkable culinary experience for customers.
It was the lure of Oregon’s bounty that brought Chef Nadolny to Eugene and eventually King Estate. Promises of wild salmon, organic meats and produce, artisan cheese, and an environment committed to sustainability were too much to deny. He moved to Oregon in 2001, sight unseen, and began working at some of Eugene’s top restaurants before signing on at King Estate.
Since joining King Estate, Chef Nadolny has developed and nurtured strong relationships with local and regional producers featuring their ingredients in such delightful dishes as Oregon Dungeness Crab Cakes with pumpkin, pickled chanterelle, roasted garlic, basil, and black pepper aioli; Knee Deep Filet Mignon with confit potato and celery root, red kale, crispy artichoke, and cabernet demi glace; or Oregon Albacore with pork belly confit, hazelnut, porcini, wild ginger and maple. Many of the organic fruits and vegetables Chef Nadolny uses come from the estate’s own 30-acres of gardens and orchards.
Graduating from the University of Oregon with a degree in Music History & Literature, and a talented musician himself, Chef Nadolny sees similarities between his two passions. Both require discipline and commitment to be successful. Whether he’s talking music, his obsession with the culinary arts or providing exceptional service, he says “there’s a point when everything is locking into place, where it uplifts your spirits and you get lost in the magic.”