Meet Executive Chef Erik Van Kley
Please join us in welcoming Erin Van Kley as our new Executive Chef at Arden! If you missed it, here’s the Eater article that announced our exciting news last month.
We are thrilled to have this seasoned chef join us at the helm of our tiny-but-mighty kitchen. If you haven’t already seen him at our restaurant, chances are you’ve still had a taste of his talent during his time at Portland restaurants like Little Bird, Le Pigeon and his own Taylor Railworks. Staying true to our spirit, Van Kley is deft at using hyper local ingredients and drawing inspiration from international cuisines to create flavorful dishes that are special to Arden.
Before joining us, the Grand Rapids, Michigan native first entered the culinary scene in 1994 as a line cook at Rose’s Restaurant, a landmark in his lakeside hometown where he was first exposed to worldly food and techniques. After four years at Rose’s, Van Kley worked at Sierra Room in Grand Rapids, rising to the position of Executive Chef in only three years.
From there, Van Kley relocated to Scottsdale, Arizona, working at several restaurants and attending Arizona Culinary Institute. After graduating in 2005, he set his sights on Portland and began working at the Gotham Building Tavern, where he met his future colleagues and mentors: two-time James Beard Award-winning Chef Gabriel Rucker, and Chef Tommy Habetz of Portland’s Bunk Sandwich empire.
Rucker recruited Van Kley as his sous chef when opening Le Pigeon, and he then served as opening Chef de Cuisine for Little Bird Bistro. Van Kley’s inventive interpretations of classic French bistro fare earned Little Bird many accolades, including The Oregonian’s Restaurant of the Year in 2012.
From 2015 to 2017, Van Kley opened and operated his own restaurant, Taylor Railworks, specializing in borderless American cuisine to critical acclaim. In 2017, he was offered the irresistible opportunity to be part owner of a favorite neighborhood restaurant, Accanto, serving as Executive Chef.
At Accanto, Van Kley gave new life to the eight-year-old Italian restaurant through gradual and thoughtful changes. His fresh perspective and culinary precision stayed true to Accanto’s dedicated neighborhood customer base while attracting new, curious gourmands.
Van Kley joined our team last month and has quickly become an integral part of our community. When Van Kley’s not in the kitchen, changes are he’s up to one of his hobbies since childhood – skateboarding or playing guitar. He’s also an avid comic book collector and loves spending time with his two Siamese cats, Ume and Shiso. We’re definitely cat people around here, so Van Kley fits right in.