Interview with Portland Rising Star Chef Gabriel Rucker of Le Pigeon - Portland, OR

November 2011

Antoinette Bruno: What inspired you to pursue cooking professionally?
Gabriel Rucker: I didn’t like my math class in junior college.

AB: How are you involved in your local culinary community?
GR: We're all friends. We do lots of events together. There’s not too much competition between us. Portland itself has been riding such a wave of popularity.

AB: What’s the biggest challenge facing your restaurant?
GR: The fact that Burnside Street is about to go into major construction for two years to go one-way, and a major transit station will go in front of our restaurant.

AB: What’s the toughest thing you’ve had to do in your job?
GR: I just got back from St. Croix at the Virgin Islands Food and Wine Festival. None of my food showed up with my baggage. I was cooking two meals, where people were paying $1,000 a piece. I had four hours of sleep in 48 hours. It was 90 degrees in a super humid kitchen.

AB: What trends do you see emerging?
GR: Next to Napa, Portland is more obsessed with offal than any other city. We kind of got that going two years ago. I don’t want to take credit for that, but we definitely had a big part.

AB: How do you keep abreast of the latest trends?
GR: I travel a lot. Also tons of chefs, when they travel, come here and sit at the counter so I get to chat.

AB: What chef would you like to cook for you?
GR: Martin Picard from Au Pied du Cochon. I'd like to eat his food.

AB: What is your proudest accomplishment?
GR: Being open for four years and having the same staff the entire time.

AB: What’s next for you? Where will we find you in five years?
GR: Probably right in the same spot, as long as people keep coming to Portland to eat food. I'm really happy here. I'm going to stay here.