We had an opportunity to visit with Chef Gabriel Rucker of Portland, Oregon’s Le Pigeon, one of five nominees up for Rising Star Chef of the Year by the prestigious James Beard Foundation. The winners will be announced at Lincoln Center, NYC, on May 3.
Originally from Napa Valley, Rucker is a “cooking school dropout” who has become the hottest young chef in the Pacific Northwest. He’s a real creative force operating out of his open kitchen, known for devising surprising riffs on traditional fare—and for the flock of pigeons tattoo on his right forearm.
Here are his somewhat laconic answers to our 10 questions.
1. How long have you been in the restaurant business?
2. Where are you from?
3. Are you married/do you have any children?
Married. No kids.
4. Where did you first learn to cook?
At the Silverado Resort in Napa. I’d been going to junior college, and didn’t like it much. So, I tried the restaurant business.
5. How did you get the news that you’d been nominated for the James Beard award?
I looked it up on the Internet. I knew when the nominations were coming out, so I just went to web site.
6. What are some of your favorite/signature dishes? What makes them special?
Our Beef Cheek Bourguignon is pretty special. The beef cheek is incredibly tender. Another favorite is our Foie Gras Profiterolis.
7. What do you like most about your job?
I like to make people happy. Feed them good food, Make them happy.
8. What’s the hardest part of your job?
Not having enough free time. I never seem to have time to do little things like read books.
9. Why do you think you were nominated for Rising Star Chef of the Year?
Well, I just think we do things a little differently here. We try to be a little more creative than some of the other places
10. What will you do to celebrate if you win?
I’ll probably just give my wife a big hug (at the ceremony in New York).
Tomorrow: 10 questions for James Beard Award nominee Chef Tim Hollingsworth.