Kachka’s Bonnie Morales wants to change the collaboration dinner game.
Morales, co-owner and chef of the famed Russian restaurant and bar Kachka and Kachinka, will soon host lauded chefs from across the country — specifically Mason Hereford of New Orleans’ Turkey & the Wolf, Abe Conlon and Adrienne Lo of Fat Rice in Chicago, Sarah Hymanson and Sara Kramer of Kismet in Los Angeles, and Justin Bazdarich of Oxomoco in New York— for a dinner series called Interwoven. The goal: a collaboration dinner that breaks from others that Morales feels are often underwhelming.
Portland loves its collaboration dinners: Each week, restaurants across the city host chefs from other restaurants, cities, and states for dinners like the ridiculously popular Plaza del Toro dinners, Higgins’ month-long anniversary in March with guest chef Frédéric Marchant, and of course, Feast Portland, a massive food festival featuring multiple collab dinners and events into the evening. “It’s a nice way for us to feel like a community nationally,” Morales says. “Events like Feast really help you form connections, then you find reasons to keep those connections going.”
But most of the time, Morales doesn’t see these events as particularly, well, collaborative. “I often hate collaboration dinners,” Morales says. “It’s just two chefs cooking things at the same time rather than anything collaborative.” In her eyes, the issue stems from two major causes: chefs will always have an opinion on how things should be done, and the logistics of travel, prep, and cost make for serious barriers. “It’s all what you can do offsite, and it’s usually what you can easily do well or what you’re known for.”
To combat that, Morales will support the visiting chef by building off their meal so they have more room to play. Served in the private dining hall at Kachka, Interwoven will feature each chef creating a number of zakuski and main plates riffing off each other’s styles and mixing it up so it’s impossible to tell who made which dish. “We can’t work on a dish together,” says Morales. “But there are ways to collaborate and do it on our own.”
Here’s an example: the first dinner with Hereford of Turkey & the Wolf, self-described as “New Orleans-stoner-gas-station” cuisine, will include zakuski like French onion dip tostadas under a Dorito fur coat—a ridiculously playful take on Kachka’s famed Herring Under a Fur Coat—and eggs stuffed with pimento cheese bryndza, an Eastern European cheese, and topped with fried sprats.
Besides a real focus on combining styles, Morales and co. want to make the dinners fun, laid back, and affordable: an $85 price tag covers the full meal, gratuity, and drinks. “I don’t want to be too stuffy, and I want people to just have fun.” Each evening will feature one dinner seating, followed by a more informal party at Kachinka down the street, where the kitchen will serve dishes inspired by the visiting chef.
Dining savants might recognize the names of the talented chefs that are set to visit, or at least their restaurants. Both Kismet and Fat Rice are on their city’s respective Essential 38 maps, while Turkey & the Wolf received high praise from Eater NOLA for its incredible sandwiches and Oxomoco earned a coveted Michelin star last November.
Here’s the lineup as it stands, as first reported by the Oregonian:
May 16, 2019 – Mason Hereford of Turkey & the Wolf (New Orleans)
August 1, 2019 – Abe Conlon and Adrienne Lo of Fat Rice (Chicago)
October 3, 2019 – Sarah Hymanson and Sara Kramer of Kismet (Los Angeles)
December 5, 2019 – Justin Bazdarich of Oxomoco (New York City)
Find tickets at Kachkapdx.com/events.
- Kachka [Official]
- Kachinka [Official]
- Turkey & the Wolf [Official]
- Fat Rice [Official]
- Kismet [Official]
- Oxomoco [Official]
- All previous Kachka coverage [EPDX]