All who wander are not lost! Jonathan Till, executive chef of the wildly popular Evening Star restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia, has earned a reputation for artful foraging in the South’s woods and wilds. He builds his menu around what he finds, and often brings his staff with him on the hunt, sharing his accumulated knowledge of nature’s bounty.
Chef Till grew up in Louisiana and upstate New York, learning to forage after culinary school through an informal two-year apprenticeship with a New York trapper. Today, his eye for wild plants and mushrooms is unparalleled, and Till is recognized for his ability to “sniff out” the best of the best.
In this special HHF appearance, Till will share tips of the trade and secrets from the woods with Joy Crump, celebrated chef and foraging fanatic. Learn what (and what not!) to gather for your own farm table. Get directions to some of the South’s best hunt sites and take home tantalizing recipes featuring the finest foraging finds.
Executive Chef, Avid Forager
Jonathan Till’s career in the kitchen began at 4-years-old, when he stood on milk crates to help wash dishes at Beverly’s, his grandmother’s namesake restaurant in Saratoga Springs, NY. A third-generation chef, Till has worked in some of the most esteemed Mid-Atlantic restaurants, landing at Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s (NRG) original outpost and Del Rey stalwart, Evening Star Café in 2018.
An avid forager, Till is a member of the Mycological Association of Washington, D.C. – a passion reflected in his menus at Evening Star.
While attending the New England Culinary Institute, Till interned at L’Espalier in Boston, where he trained under James Beard Award-winning chef, Frank McClelland, honing his technique in almost every area of the kitchen as tournant. After receiving an associate’s degree in culinary arts, he went on to work under Certified Master Pastry Chef, Frank Vollkommer at Saratoga National Golf Course. In 2009, Till left his fine-dining background to work as Executive Sous Chef at Beekman Street Bistro, a true farm-to-table restaurant where everything on the menu came off the pickup truck that day. Working closely with local farms and purveyors to write the daily menus, he sought to learn about the origins of the products coming into the kitchen. It was then that he began to forage for the restaurant, bringing in wild mushrooms, ramps, wild greens, and more.
Before moving to the Washington, D.C. area, Till worked under Executive Chef Tyler Brown at the Hermitage Hotel’s Capitol Grille in Nashville, where he had access to its 7,000 acre cattle farm and vegetable garden where he developed his fermenting and preserving skills. In 2015, he was tapped to oversee training, hiring and sourcing for “bartaco” locations up and down the East Coast. Seeking a less transient position, Till settled in as Executive Chef of William Jeffrey’s Tavern in Arlington, VA, where he spent two years overseeing the kitchen and operations for the neighborhood spot.
In 2018, Jonathan joined NRG as Executive Chef of Evening Star Cafe, a 21-year-old establishment known for its convivial setting and seasonal American menu—much of which features herbs and produce grown on the rooftop garden. Before landing at the Star, Jonathan established local foraging spots and relationships with farmers, bringing his unwavering commitment to sustainable sourcing to the Del Ray neighborhood restaurant.