Woodland brain tumor survivor blossoming as pastry chef


In 2015, a Woodland high schooler’s life changed after a CT scan came back showing a large mass in his brain; today, Noah Lefever serves as the pastry chef at the North Fork Grill a part of the Lewis River Golf Course.

While Lefever’s brain tumor turned out benign, he experienced complications leading to fear by doctors and family members the teen would not survive. During his recovery, Lefever could not speak for at least two weeks and experienced temporary paralysis, according to previous reporting by The Reflector. In the ensuing years, Lefever overcame further complications along with hormone disruptions.

It wasn’t all bad, though. According to information from the Lewis River Golf Course, during his recovery Lefever discovered his passion for baking, turning pies, breads, cookies and fudge into a therapeutic outlet. In 2020, neighbors and community members began visiting the Lefever family home to purchase the treats he made.

“Word quickly spread about his exceptional baking skills, and soon enough, Noah started to develop a local following in Woodland, peddling baked goods from home in exchange for donations (to remain compliant with food safety laws),” a press release stated. “Noah’s talent and dedication to his craft did not go unnoticed.”

Lefever’s venture as a pastry chef at the golf course began in 2021 when two employees at the Lewis River Golf Course sampled his delectable cinnamon rolls, the release stated. Later, Lefever’s creations caught the attention of the new golf course owners.

The Woodland native was hired as the official dessert chef at the North Fork Grill in May 2023.

“I’m literally living my dream,” Lefever told the Reflector. “That’s what I did at home for hours upon hours. I pulled all-nighters baking at home. So, now I get to do it for a living.”

Lefever now showcases his skills after chef Devin Toland added a baker’s choice option to the North Fork Grill menu.

“So I get to literally pick something every week that I get to plan out … which is literally a dream come true for me,” Lefever said.

One of his favorite items on the menu is a cheesecake that he makes from scratch and has received high praise since he started at the restaurant.

During the golf course’s transformative period under its new ownership, Lefever was challenged with learning how to operate the kitchen’s convection oven, which he mastered in three short weeks, allowing him to regularly create his cheesecakes and garnering more attention from colleagues and patrons alike.

According to Chris Bacher, who was at one point tasked to lead the restaurant’s revitalization and who has made over 200 cheesecakes throughout his career, Lefever’s stood out as the best he has tasted, the release stated.

Toland agrees with Bacher’s assessment.

“Like some people will have trouble with consistency and getting it right at the same time, but he’s got his method nailed,” he told the Reflector. “… I think he’s not as confident in himself as he is in the craft itself. So, just being able to cook a cheesecake every single day of the week and [having it] be the exact same and never be overcooked or ruined just shows an attention to detail.”

Toland added that Lefever’s passion and further learning will only make him more successful in the future. Toland hopes Lefever will become more involved marketing his cheesecakes and sharing his numerable skills as the golf course expands its events in the near future.

According to the release, interim general manager Bill DuVal has discussed allowing Lefever to use the golf course’s kitchen as a commissary baking facility. This would not only provide Lefever with a dedicated space to further hone his craft but also offer the community easier access to his baked goods, the release stated.

The North Fork Grill at the Lewis River Golf Course is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday at 3209 Old Lewis River Road in Woodland. To make a reservation, call 360-225-7188, or email reservations@lewisrivergolf.com.