Our Why

The Refuge Chef believes in giving back to the community that has so graciously supported them. Our name, The Refuge Chef, came about sitting with friends wondering what we should call ourselves. Our home lies next to the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge, and we get the pleasure of enjoying it's beauty in all of its splendor every day from our back deck. It seemed fitting that something that we are so connected to should be part of our business, and thus we became The Refuge Chef.

In an effort to support 'The Refuge" we decided that we would donate 5% of everything we make back to The Friends of the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge. They are a fantastic organization that provides wildlife education and supports environmental protection of the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge. 

We also believe in supporting local agriculture as much as possible. We partner with local growers like Quackenbush Farms, a small vegetable farm here in our community that grows some of the most amazing produce you will ever taste, to supply produce for our events and parties. 

It's about giving back and supporting our community, that's our why. 


Chef John Christian Bernatz

An award winning, certified executive chef and culinologist with over fifteen years of professional kitchen experience, Chef John Christian Bernatz thrives at creating inventive, memorable food using the bounty of the Pacific Northwest. He began his culinary journey as a young boy cooking at home for his family experimenting with foods, flavors and textures making sure that everyone was fed that came to visit. Chef spent a number of years in the Army as a Combat Medic & Nurse before going to culinary school. 

After culinary school he worked in a number of restaurants refining his skills and food knowledge. Along the way Chef learned the art of wok cooking and developed a passion for Asian food and cookery. But what really has shaped his palette is the extensive traveling he has done around the world opening himself to culinary experiences and amazing taste sensations. From Germany to Morocco, and South Africa to Costa Rica, his world travels, German family upbringing and industry experience shine through in every dish he creates. Chef John puts passion into all of his culinary creations and mixes flavors, textures and cultural influences to create new and exciting food. 

As a husband and a father, Chef John's priority is always his family, balancing the demands of a culinary career with the joys of raising 4 amazing beautiful kids.