CWU’s Dining Services Welcomes New Campus Executive Chef

Joe Ritchie brings extensive experience and high-caliber culinary talent to new role at Central Washington University.

Central Washington University has hired Joe Ritchie to serve as campus executive chef.

Ritchie joins CWU’s Dining Services team with impressive culinary credentials, working most recently at the Four Seasons in Seattle.

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Ritchie, who begins his new position in mid-January, said he was drawn to the job at Central because of the exciting challenge it presents: providing new, exciting and relevant dining options to the campus community.

“His arrival prepares us for our upcoming journey of revamping and elevating our existing dining program,” noted Dean Masuccio, director of Dining Services at CWU. “Joe’s extensive culinary experience and high-caliber culinary talent will lead our program’s efforts, and will allow us to provide the culinary experiences that current and future CWU Wildcats expect.”

Ritchie grew up in Washington’s Snoqualmie Valley. “My first jobs were harvesting blueberries in the shadow of Mt. Si and flipping burgers at the local ski lodge,” he recalled.

After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu in Scottsdale, Arizona in 2001, he returned to the Northwest in 2002 to work at the prestigious Herbfarm Restaurant, where he developed an appreciation for quality local ingredients and Washington wines.

In 2006, Ritchie moved to the Rocky Mountains for an executive chef role at Grouse Mountain Grill, a fine dining restaurant at Beaver Creek resort. In 2009, he became the executive chef at Cave B Inn in Quincy, Washington, where he worked closely with the winemaker to create noteworthy menus. He later returned to Seattle to run the kitchen at Poppy Restaurant, Seattle’s award-winning Thali restaurant. After a stint at California’s two-Michelin star restaurant Cyrus in Healdsburg, Ritchie again headed back home to Washington State.

Ritchie joined Ethan Stowell Restaurants in 2013 as the opening chef of Mkt restaurant. The tiny 30-seat restaurant received many accolades and garnered national attention under Ritchie’s guidance. In 2015, Ritchie joined Four Seasons and opened Goldfinch Tavern, the critically acclaimed restaurant at Four Seasons Seattle.

When he is not in the kitchen, Ritchie is likely out on his sister’s organic ranch in Ellensburg, Wash., exploring in the mountains, or teaching his two young daughters the ways of the kitchen.

“I find culinary inspiration in everything, from travel, to tradition, to nature,” he said.