Preston Madson & Ginger PiercePeels
Preston Madson brings his straightforward and soulful, Southern influence forward in the kitchen. Profoundly inspired by local ingredients and uncomplicated cooking, Madson’s pure sensibility has defined his approach to cooking, building upon the restaurant’s recipe for success. With the opening of Peels, the newest eating establishment from the Freemans team, Preston continues his simple, rustic approach to cooking with a modern spin on signature favorites.
Growing up in Southeast Georgia, surrounded by southern classics and locally grown ingredients, Madson developed an early appreciation for fine, flavorful food. “My mom made everything from scratch. She really influenced the way I think about food. She cooked with love and could turn a simple meal into an occasion.”
Preston learned at a young age to utilize the ingredients around him saying, “My mom always preserved seasonal fruits and vegetables.” He recalls, “On Sunday afternoons, I fished with my grandfather and we would catch and clean the catfish on the dock and bring them home, where my mom and grandmother were already in the kitchen preparing sweet tea, grits and hush puppies. Meals were about more than just the food - they were a reason for friends and family to come together.” It was this simple formulation that inspired Preston to pursue a career path in cooking.
The evolution of Preston’s craft began as a student in pursuit of a degree at the Culinary Institute of America. Upon graduation, his passion for sustainable, locally-sourced ingredients led to work on an organic farm in the San Francisco Bay Area, balancing his time there, while also cooking at Roxanne’s, a popular vegan restaurant. Preston’s continued appreciation for high quality, fresh ingredients continued when he came back East to work at New York City’s Barbuto. There, chef/owner Jonathan Waxman introduced Madson to a simplistic “less is more” approach to food preparation.
“Jonathan was a significant influence for me for several reasons. He brought California style cooking to the East Coast in the early 80’s and that revolutionized the food scene and the manner in which we think about food sourcing. He showed me how to let fresh, local ingredients shine by doing very little to them.”
After his stint at Barbuto, Madson moved over to Cookshop, again working with regional ingredients and focusing on uncomplicated techniques like grilling and roasting. Sous chef at Provence was next (now Hundred Acres) which served as his springboard for Freemans (and later Peels and ISA).
Preston continues to work with farms, green markets and fair-trade purveyors to source top quality ingredients. It’s this approach combined with his Southern influence that inspires Madson’s style of cooking. He says, “I want to update our menus every two months as the seasonal, local ingredients change and incorporate traditional Southern flavors.” Madson’s straightforward style of cooking and use of high-quality, regionally-sourced ingredients would prove a fateful fit for Freemans where he officially on-boarded in September 2008. Today, Preston is joined by wife, Ginger Pierce, creating updated homey favorites at Freemans, Peels and ISA restaurants.
GINGER PIERCE CO-CHEF
Chef Ginger Pierce was raised in the San Francisco Bay area where her parents had a keen appreciation for the bounty of fresh, local produce. Her mother, an avid gardener, gave her an early affection for backyard produce, often yielding delicious tomatoes and a variety of fresh fruit. Following her family’s gate, Ginger attended the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco