Devin Ramos has always been adventurous with food. From a very young age, he would have grocery store adventures with his mom where they would pick out things they’d never seen before and come up with a dish at home. This and other experiences propelled him to pursue an associates degree in Culinary Arts from Johnson & Wales University. Now he is the Chef de Cuisine at Avenue N in Rumford.
Is cooking a big deal in your family?
Only during the holidays, when everyone gets to do what they do best. I always get to make the prime rib roast.
Do you have any memories of cooking growing up that have influenced your cooking style today?
Yes – helping my grandmother during the holidays making pasteles. We would all get around the counter to grate green plantains while my grandmother would season the meat. My mom’s job was to fill the plantain leafs and my sister would tie them up.
Have you cooked in any other states/countries?
I cooked in Puerto Rico for a few months at the Ritz Carlton after finishing school, then came back to RI. I was also the Sous Chef at 1149 in Seekonk.
Are there any memorable chefs that you have worked with?
I worked for a lot of great chefs but I would say Steven Davenport chef/owner of Parkside Rotisserie and Bar. I worked there for nearly four years and it’s where I first learned the importance of local food and the community. Steve was like a father/mentor to me while working there. It’s where I learned the classical French cuisine that I use as the foundation of my dishes.
What is the biggest influence on your cooking today?
I would say seasonality. Growing up in Puerto Rico, it’s summer all year round, so we always have the same produce. In New England I get to play with different things all the time. I feel like every week there is something new to cook. It keeps things interesting and makes it fun for me.
How would you describe your style of cooking?
New England comfort food but with a modern, seasonal twist.
Is there a region where you draw most of your inspiration?
Mostly New England. I love the whole clambake, Italian and Portuguese mix of food.
What is your favorite item currently on the menu at Avenue N?
I tell everyone the fried oysters, but the truth is that they really are. We get our oysters directly from Mark Boucher, owner of Plum Point Oyster out of North Kingstown. The simplicity of the dish is what makes it great: lightly fried and the horseradish mustard sauce makes it the perfect bite.
What is your favorite dish you’ve created at Avenue N?
The malt glazed wings. It’s where I got to use Malta, which is a very popular malt beverage in Puerto Rico. Parents (like my mom) used to put it in our lunch bags for school when we were kids.
It seems like a lot of the menu is comfort food that has been kicked up a notch. Was that one of your goals with the menu?
Avenue N has always been about progressive comfort food. With such a neighborhood following we want to be approachable. But don’t get me wrong, we are not afraid to push the envelope from time to time!
Is breakfast or dinner your favorite meal of the day?
I’m actually a late night guy. I’m usually working breakfast and dinner! I love going through the drive-thru to get a cheeseburger or a taco.
What is a must-try item from your pantry?
Our menu literally changes daily but we always have a few seasonal staples. Right now we have a spaghetti squash salad with local tomatoes and kale pesto that is pretty amazing.
Why did you decide to have to-go items instead of just offering a sit down atmosphere?
It really just came from demand. Rumford is loaded with busy families who don’t always have time to cook scratch meals. The Pantry is a great healthy, home cooked option that offers something for every palate.
Avenue N American Kitchen. 20 Newman Avenue Rumford. 270-2836