The Trading Post Team
Trading Post Executive Chef and Managing Partner, Erik Johnson’s approach to food is simple—geography, curiosity and determination. Growing up hunting and fishing with his uncles and then cooking with his mom, this Idaho native has always approached food from a whole-circle perspective of exploration and respect. It wasn’t until his early twenties when Erik was putting himself through school working as a cook, when he realized he wanted to pursue a serious career in the kitchen.
After starting his professional career in a wine bar bistro in Boise, Erik was drawn to the year-round Farm to Table ethos of Northern California. His first introduction to the fine dining scene in California was as at San Francisco’s acclaimed Farallon restaurant. From there he followed his calling north to wine country, serving as Executive Sous Chef at Healdsburg’s Dry Creek Kitchen. Sonoma County’s local farms and agriculture fulfilled a deep curiosity and quickly made a lasting impression on Erik.
“I am a local farm devotee and have an intense focus on seasonality. I’ve worked hard to develop symbiotic relationships with local farmers, which allows me to get access to the most interesting and well-grown produce. I like to utilize both progressive and traditional techniques but keep the focus on highlighting the ingredients. My ultimate goal is for my guests to enjoy both the flavor AND experience of eating.” -Erik Johnson, Head Chef and Partner of Trading Post
In 2013, Erik became Executive Chef at Sonoma’s J Vineyards & Winery where he helped put the winery on the map for its 6-course food and wine pairing experience. Erik’s use of locally-inspired ingredients coupled with his creativity elevated him to one of wine country’s rising culinary stars. While directing the food program at J, Erik pursued a deeper understanding of wine and received a Level 3 Certification with honors in the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET).
In late 2016, his dream of having his own restaurant came to fruition with the opening of Trading Post Restaurant & Bakery in his home town of Cloverdale, California – a historic Sonoma County wine country enclave and the gateway to two of the area’s most acclaimed wine regions: Alexander Valley and Anderson Valley (Mendocino County). When Erik isn’t in the Post kitchen or procuring fresh produce from local purveyors, he is recharging in his home garden or playing music, often accompanied by his wife and twin daughters.
Partner and Baker-Pastry Chef Aaron Arabian comes from a pastry background and ventured into bread making two years ago as part of the start-up team for the Trading Post bakery. A dedicated leader in the Trading Post kitchen, Aaron is constantly evolving as a culinary artist. He studies traditional and modern baking techniques and is always experimenting. The Post bakery produces classic, artisan breads using traditional recipes and can be found throughout our menu and featured most prominently on our house bread board.
With his extensive culinary experience, our partner Ron Ferrato wears many hats for Trading Post. On many evenings you can find him greeting diners, running food or even cooking on the line. By day (or early morning), Ron tends to the Trading Post garden which he cultivated from scratch for the restaurant two years ago.
Ron brings in a daily harvest of vegetables and eggs from the Trading Post garden that are featured throughout our menu.