KEN ORINGER, Consulting Chef
“Most Likely to Succeed”…quite the compliment…and when Ken Oringer graduated from the renowned Culinary Institute of America in 1989, his classmates voted to give him this honor. Based in Boston, where he owns and operates six restaurants, Chef Oringer has most definitely succeeded. Earth is his seventh culinary adventure, and he brings years of experience, with cultivation spanning the globe, to create an innovative and locally supportive dining hot spot in Maine’s oceanfront town of Kennebunkport.
From school, Chef Oringer went to work with David Burke at New York’s River Café, who turned out to be a huge inspiration and mentor. From there, he tried his hand as Pastry Chef at Al Forno in Rhode Island, and then as Sous Chef for Jean-Georges Vongerichten at Le Marquis de Lafayette. Vongerichten’s cooking was highly Asian influenced, something Chef Oringer had found a passion for, and ultimately influenced Oringer’s career in this regard. After Le Marquis de Lafayette, Chef Oringer opened a small restaurant, Terra, in Greenwich, CT which earned three stars from the New York Times, under his leadership. Around this time, Chef Oringer caught wind of potential opportunities and exciting new ingredients found out west so he ventured to San Francisco and started working as Chef de Cuisine for Silks, at the acclaimed San Francisco Madarin Oriental Hotel.
Eager to return to the East Coast, Chef Oringer began looking for retail space in Boston, which lead him to open Clio in 1997; a French inspired, fine dining restaurant that has since earned him several awards, including Best Chef – Northeast 2001 from the James Beard Foundation. From Clio, Chef Oringer went on to open sashimi bar, Uni, offering the freshest local seafood from Tokyo’s Tskuji market. In 2005, Oringer opened a Barcelona-inspired tapas restaurant, Toro. La Verdad, a popular Mexican restaurant adjacent to Fenway Park, was opened in 2007 and Chef Oringer is also the consulting chef for KO Prime steakhouse in Kimpton’s Hotel Nine Zero in Beacon Hill. In November 2009, Oringer and partner Chef Jamie Bissonette opened Coppa, rounding out his collection with an Italian-style restaurant featuring innovative cuisine, experimental cocktails and an extensive wine list. Coppa was awarded 3 stars by The Boston Globe and has earned both local and national attention since its debut honorable mention in John Mariani’s 2010 list of “Best New Restaurants” in Esquire magazine. In 2010, Oringer garnered the Star Chefs Rising Stars Mentor Award for his dedication to teaching and inspiring the next generation of chefs.
In addition to being a restaurateur, Chef Oringer has participated in international cooking summits and events such as the International Summit of Gastronomy and the World Gourmet Festival, and faced off with Iron Chef Cat Cora, on the Food Network’s Iron Chef America where he ultimately won a coffee cooking battle by four points. When he is not working, Oringer spends his time at home with his wife Celine and two daughters.
JUSTIN WALKER, Executive Chef
Joining Chef Oringer as Executive Chef at Earth, is Chef Justin Walker, who discovered his love for cooking at an early age while preparing holiday meals with his grandfather. Through an externship with the New England Culinary Institute, he found his way to acclaimed Ogunquit, ME restaurant, Arrows in 1998. Under the tutelage of Chefs Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier, Justin worked his way through the kitchen, starting as a line/rounds cook, to Sous Chef, and leaving as Chef de Cuisine after 15 years. During his tenure, Chef Walker had the honor of cooking at the James Beard House, was part of the Arrows team that earned a James Beard Award and was recognized by essentially every food related publication and in press, such as Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Gourmet and NBC’s “The Today Show”, for outstanding cuisine.
At home and in the kitchen, Chef Walker embraces sustainable cuisine, raising goats, chickens and growing large gardens on his farm. He shares a creative culinary vision with Consulting Chef Ken Oringer in that nightly menus are designed by seasonal ingredients in the garden.