|Written by Lucy Burningham|
|Tuesday, March 08, 2011|
On a narrow street in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Southeast Portland, just a few blocks from singing rail lines, Gabriel Rucker, chef and owner of Le Pigeon and Little Bird, and his wife, Hana Kaufman, unintentionally channel the lives of the Italian rail workers who used to live on the road.
The couple doesn’t own many spices or hoard good bottles of wine, but enjoy them sooner rather than later, and Kaufman’s been known to pull the breakfast nook table into the kitchen so the girls can play cards and drink gin while the guys watch football.
The kitchen, which makes up the back third of the 1912 home, is steeped in nostalgia, from the electric Hotpoint stove (circa the 1940s) and the metal-handled GE Frigidaire to the black-and-white checkered linoleum and glass-door cabinets.
The setup inspires 29-year-old Rucker and 26-year-old Kaufman to sidestep modernity. They don’t pop dirty plates into a dishwasher or warm leftovers in a microwave. Instead they push buttons on the electric stove and fill the sink with soap. And they don’t press glasses into an automatic icemaker, but forego ice cubes to make room for a pint or two of ice cream in the tiny freezer inside the fridge.
Tonight they’re making Rice-A-Roni as a side dish to chicken and broccoli. “As a chef, the restaurant is your creative outlet,” says Rucker, who was named one of Food & Wine’s best new chefs in 2007. “I don’t feel the need to have accomplishments in the kitchen at home. Cooking is more about the act of us being together.”