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founding partner

Joshua McFadden
Founding Partner

Having grown up in the Midwest, Joshua came to the Pacific Northwest to attend Cordon Bleu in Portland, Oregon. Since then, he’s cooked in some of the top kitchens in San Francisco (Lark Creek Inn, Roxanne’s), Chicago (North Pond), and New York (Franny’s, Momofuku, Blue Hill and Lupa.) He also spent time in Rome working at the American Academy in Rome, an Alice Waters project. He was awarded two stars by the New York Times while serving as Chef de Cuisine at Franny’s in Brooklyn. Wanting to get closer to his artistic medium, Joshua spent two years farming and cooking in coastal Maine, running Four Season Farm. It allowed him to think about food in a whole new way, sparking a deeper passion for—and knowledge of—vegetables. 

Joshua’s belief that food should be simple, honest, and driven by local ingredients has found its natural home in the Pacific Northwest at Ava Gene’s, where he is Executive Chef/Partner.

In the summer of 2016, he and Luke Dirks formed Submarine Hospitality, which acquired ownership of Ava Gene’s and just before opening Tusk. Joshua is also the consulting chef at The Suttle Lodge & Boathouse. His cookbook of 225 vegetable-focused recipes was published in March of 2017 by Artisan Books, and has already received rave reviews.

luke dirks

founding partner

Luke Dirks
Founding Partner

A true Cascadian, Luke was born in British Columbia, Canada and grew up in Oregon and Washington. After completing his degree in English Literature at Seattle Pacific University, Luke began a career in hospitality that continues to this day. In 2007, he left the restaurant world to join Portland’s own Stumptown Coffee Roasters as they expanded their presence into Seattle and the greater Pacific Northwest. Luke’s role as Regional Sales Director took him to Brooklyn, New York in 2009, where he guided Stumptown’s wholesale expansion on the East Coast for the next two years. In 2011, Luke got back to what he does best: managing restaurants. 

Luke joined forces with Gabriel Stulman’s Happy Cooking Hospitality and soon took on the role of Managing Partner for this budding Manhattan-based restaurant group. During Luke’s tenure, the group added Perla, Chez Sardine, and Montmartre to the already impressive roster of Joseph Leonard, Jeffrey’s Grocery, and Fedora. After six years in New York, Luke moved back to Portland for good. 

In summer of 2016, he and Joshua McFadden formed Submarine Hospitality, which acquired ownership of Ava Gene’s restaurant just before opening Tusk.


benji wagner


Benji Wagner

Benji began his career as a photographer and filmmaker, working for brands like Nike and Rapha. He then founded Poler Outdoor Stuff, an outdoor lifestyle brand that was launched on social media and quickly became a cultural leader in the industry. Within a few years, Poler become a globally recognized brand.

Recognizing that the modern consumer is looking for more than just a great meal, and that the Hospitality industry is changing rapidly, Benji brings his marketing savvy, expertise in social media, digital media, photography and film to the Submarine team.


ryan dirks

creative director

Ryan Dirks
Creative Director

Born in Canada and raised in Oregon, Ryan worked as a line cook while studying writing and art at the University of Oregon. He has been obsessed with food, words, and images ever since. Ryan went on to work as a writer and creative project manager at Lane PR, focusing on a diverse range of clients, from local restaurants (South Park) and hotels (The Heathman) to Nike. After serving as Art Critic for the Portland Mercury and writing for a number of other publications, Ryan returned to graduate school, earning an MA literature from Cornell University. He taught undergraduate and graduate courses on writing, popular culture, and literature at the University of Oregon, Cornell University, and the Pacific Northwest College of Art. Ryan joined Submarine as Creative Director in the summer of 2016.