"I like to hire chefs who can teach me new things," Gabriel Rucker said, sitting inside Little Bird Bistro during a recent interview with Eater. The two-times James Beard Award-winner and founder of Le Pigeon and Little Bird Bistro has a history of reciprocating, with his hires going on to establish important restaurants of their own.
With the recent exodus of Le Pigeon chef de cuisine Andrew Mace and pastry chef Nora Antene, a new guard steps up, bringing new dishes with them. Welcome Marcelle Crooks, newly named Little Bird chef de cuisine.
"She just has a way of asserting herself—to just jump on the line and not be afraid off failures," said Rucker, and he adds that he's already taken one or two cues from Crooks's organizational skills. Crooks started cooking in kitchens at age 15, and she's hopped around for the most part, with a longer stint at Sunshine Tavern. "I like being able to grow and experience growth with a team," she tells Eater, and her cooking style has been shaping the Little Bird menu over the past six or so months.
Rucker will focus more on the Le Pigeon kitchen, and with the move come new dishes, like Seared Foie Gras, with grilled Chinese sausage, banana miso, spicy mushroom, green banana relish, and marcona almond (pictured below). Little Bird pastry chef Helen Jo will join him as pastry chef of Le Pigeon, with Erin Hughes stepping up as Little Bird's new pastry chef.