5 Questions With Gabriel Rucker: James Beard Rising Star Chef Nominee

By: Sarah De Heer

On Monday, May 9, Tom Colicchio, Emeril Lagasse, Gail Simmons, Andrew Zimmern, Anne Burrell and many others in the food industry — will don their best as they join the James Beard Foundation at its annual Restaurant and Chef Awards Dinner.

In honor of the Rising Star Chef of the Year Award, we're chatting with the 2011 nominees for this category. Yesterday we caught up with Thomas McNaughton, chef at flour + water in San Francisco. Today we're talking with Gabriel Rucker, chef of Le Pigeon in Portland, Oregon. Being nominated is "the highest honor you can receive as a chef," Rucker says. "And just being nominated makes me feel like a winner already."

FN Dish: The theme of this year's awards is "The Ultimate Melting Pot," so what is your favorite type of ethnic cuisine?

GR: Mexican

FN Dish: Which celebrity/politician (dead or alive) would you like to cook for and why?

GR: Burt Reynolds because he's probably a whole lot of fun.

FN Dish: What is the one thing you'd like to change about the food industry?

GR: The amount of waste that occurs from running a kitchen.

FN Dish: Paula Deen's fried chicken or Bobby Flay's burgers?

GR: I have no idea.

FN Dish: What is the one thing you can't live without in your home kitchen?

GR: A bottle of wine.
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