Luke's Local Former Chefs: Featuring Paula McDade

March 07, 2024

Luke's Local Former Chefs: Featuring Paula McDade

Welcome to the next installment of "Luke's Local Chefs: Where Are They Now?" In this series, we delve into the journeys of some of the remarkable chefs who have collaborated with Luke's Local over the years. Join us as we explore what these culinary talents have been up to since their tenure at Luke's.

Next up: Chef Paula McDade!


What's your name, how long were you at Luke's Local, and what was your role when you were at Luke's Local?

My name is Paula McDade and I worked at Luke's Local for 7 years from 2015-2022. I started at Luke's as the house butcher when back Luke's was an online delivery business and we only delivered on Mondays. I got promoted to Executive Chef in 2018.
Do you have any meals or recipes you still associate with your time at Luke's - whether it be something you loved to make or eat for family meal, or something that you cooked for meal boxes / the deli?
I still make red pepper sauce to just have in my fridge so I can jazz up meals on the fly. I make chorizo burritos for clients and they are always a hit.
Do you have any favorite memories or a funny story that comes to mind from your time at Luke's? 
My favorite memory from Luke's is when we had a staff camping trip in Mendocino. We made a porchetta on a spit and were right by the ocean. I think we were just about to open Cole St or had just opened. I miss the days of Luke's when we were small and everyone knew everyone. I like to think of those scrappy, upstart days like "the kids have taken over the school" :)
What have you been up to since you left Luke's? Have you continued cooking? In what capacity? Do you have other hobbies you've continued to enjoy since leaving Luke's?
I moved to the Washington, DC area after leaving Luke's. I started a personal chef and catering business called Goldfinch in June 2022. Goldfinch offers customized weekly meal services for families. I get to know the family and their unique tastes, goals, and dietary restrictions to create a custom menu for their weekly meal prep. I also cook for intimate private dinners across the DC area and the Shenandoah Valley (DC's Napa). It has been really great to work so closely with clients and see the instant feedback when I cook for their special occasions.  I have formed relationships with local wineries and farms in Shenandoah Valley and have catered multiple wine club events as well as the Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail Awards ceremony. The wine community in Virginia is small and tight-knit. It has been very rewarding to be welcomed in the community. My hobbies include wine tasting, crafting, frequenting my local gym, and discovering new restaurants in DC.
What's the best thing you've eaten in 2024 so far? 
I went to Bar Spero in DC a couple weeks ago and had a smoked octopus with squid ink dish that was so so good. Highly recommend Bar Spero.
What's your go-to thing to eat when you've had a long day and you just need something that will come together in under ten minutes?

My go-to meal is avocado toast with smoked salmon, arugula, pickled onion, and some kind of sauce. A salsa, hot sauce, chili oil, or whatever else I have handy. I eat some version of this probably every day.

Describe your pefect deli sandwich.
Toasted soft roll, toppings/bread/meat all need to be in balance, probably sliced turkey, yellow mustard, pickles, red onion, arugula
If you could give a home cook only one cooking "tip" what would it be?
Keep sauces handy! I will make salsas or the red pepper sauce and keep a jar in my fridge. It livens up any dish and makes meats/fish and plain roasted veggies more exciting. It also adds more vegetables to your diet which is always a good thing!


Thanks so much for chatting with us, Paula! You can find Paula on Instagram at @chefpaula_goldfinch or check out her cute website here!

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