Harvest restaurant to open next to Camas Hotel

Owner/chef plans to participate in downtown First Friday chili cookoff

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Tim McCusker, chef/owner of Harvest restaurant

An Irish-born chef plans to prepare local, fresh and creative dishes in downtown Camas.

Tim McCusker, owner of the Rustic Palate (a catering company), will open Harvest restaurant, next to the Camas Hotel, at 401 N.E. Fourth Ave., within the next two months.

“We’ve always been very fond of main street,” he said. “It is picturesque. Everyone has been very warm.

“Even when you pass a stranger, someone gives you a smile,” McCusker added.

He and the Harvest space are available now for catered events.

“We have five or six events booked, including a wedding reception, some Christmas bookings and a few company Christmas parties,” McCusker said.

He described the dishes at Harvest to be “family friendly comfort food.”

“It will be exciting and innovative — not just steak on mashed potatoes, but apple-wrapped bacon with Peruvian potatoes and whipped blue cheese,” McCusker said. “There will be entrees, small plates and maybe table side flambe desserts.”

He also mentioned pork shank “osso buco” style, local beer-braised beef and hot butcher blocks of duck breast with blackberry jam. Dinners and weekend breakfasts will be among the meals served at Harvest.

“The hotel has been very nice to us,” McCusker said. “We want to make sure we supply the needs of the hotel guests.”

McCusker, 40, won the “Iron Chef” competition in Portland last year.

He has helped some consultants build restaurants.

“I’m like a Gordan Ramsay without vulgarity,” McCusker said. “I don’t really yell at people.”

Harvest is owned by Tim, his wife Melissa and a former neighbor, Ryan Lenoir. The McCuskers lived in Camas for four years before recently moving to Washougal. They have three children.

The McCuskers previously lived in Charleston, S.C., where Tim prepared the world’s longest sushi roll at an aquarium.

During their first year in the restaurant business, they made $40,000 in a makeshift kitchen at a rented garage. That figure increased to more than $250,000 in the second year.

Tim grew up in Northern Ireland, Spain and England, where his parents owned pubs and hotels.

“It was quite the experience,” he said. “In the mornings [for] my chores before school, I had to clean the beer lines, help mop the cellar, and help my dad pour a half dozen pints of Guinness.”

Last week, Tim cooked bananas foster for 3,000 people at a wedding planner trade show in Portland.

This week, he plans to participate in the Camas First Friday chili cookoff, from 5 to 8 p.m., at the future site of Harvest.

“We treat people the way we want to be treated,” Tim said. “We want to know their names and families and provide a warm welcome for people.

Harvest will open in the former location of Oliver’s, which closed in September.