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Kurt Madar returns to the kitchen after career spin

Kurt Madar prepares a healthy dish in the kitchen of The Shack on Chetco Avenue. The Pilot/Marge Woodfin
Ballet dancer, U.S. Navy Seal, journalist, and now  restaurateur, describes in a nut shell the career of Kurt Madar, co-owner, with Donald Dowden, of the Shack Island Grill on Chetco Avenue, which opened Sept. 15.

The two men said they are on a mission to encourage healthy eating. Mader said, “Most of the U.S. is addicted to fast food.”

He added, “One reason Don and I started this is that we want to change the model for fast food. It doesn’t have to be heavy in fat, cooked, frozen and reheated. It can be quickly cooked and fresh, with healthy veggies.”

Dowden, whose mother, Kathleen Dowden, was a favorite teacher in Brookings for many years, assented to Madar’s next comment, “We want to change what kids eat at school.”

Mader said he paid college expenses at University of Oregon for himself and his wife, Emily, by cooking at a bed and breakfast at Heceta Head, and also worked as executive chef on a boat to Thailand.

“I learned to cook fast food watching street vendors in Thailand cook fresh food with new ingredients,” he said.

“I make all of our sauces from scratch, cut all my own veggies, and use all personal recipes that I learned watching cooks across the world,” Mader said.

Mader was preparing to head back to U of O when the opportunity arose to take over the restaurant. “I was planning to go to law school, but this restaurant just sort of fell into our laps. It’s hard to start a restaurant without infrastructure, because it requires so much money to install all of the equipment. But suddenly we were able to carry out our dream to encourage healthy eating habits.”

Mader noted that they will also be serving wine and beer as soon as the required licenses are received. “We want to provide a place where you can come in and eat, and chat, and hang out and enjoy a healthy fast food meal with no excess fat, salt, sugar, or calories, and we’re happy to be seeing lots of returning clients.”

Comments from the customers included, “The chicken is delicious and the cabbage salad is excellent.”

The Shack at 1011 Chetco Ave. is open from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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