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Autumn calls for cuisine rich in flavors and seasonings, providing a feeling of comfort on a chilly day. That’s exactly what 2018 James Beard Award Finalist for Best Chef in the Northwest, Bonnie Morales, accomplishes with her restaurant Kachka, which pays tribute to her upbringing in a family that emigrated from the former Soviet Union. Corporate Essentials is pleased to offer signature recipes created by Chef Morales each week this November to New Jersey and New York City offices as a part of our Featured Chef program with Martin + Fitch.

Bonnie’s Culture-Rich Upbringing

Bonnie Morales draws from an upbringing that centered around food, drink, and the celebration surrounding the two to create an authentic Russian atmosphere in her Portland, Oregon restaurant, Kachka. Growing up in Chicago in a large family with a distinctive culture, Bonnie just wanted to fit in with her friends; she did not want to embrace her culture because she simply wanted to be “American”. Bonnie often told her friends to come to her home well fed prior, and did not realize the rich culinary legacy that she was hiding.

It was after beginning a career in product design that Bonnie became aware of the impact her Soviet heritage had on her. She left her job to pursue a career in the food industry and studied at the Culinary Institute of America. Bonnie believed that Russian food was broken, but had potential and strove to fix it by combining it with French techniques she learned through her training. She began working and developing her craft at several of New York and Chicago’s Michelin starred restaurants, including Tru where she met Israel Morales.

The Road to Kachka

Through her relationship with Israel and introducing him to her family and culture, Bonnie renewed her love for true Russian food. She began to see that even people with no cultural ties to the former Soviet Union could develop a deep appreciation for the variety of food and flavors. The two both had a passion for the cuisine of Bonnie’s upbringing and began brainstorming ways to bring not only the food, but the experience of a true Russian dinner party to other people – and so Kachka was born.

Bonnie ditched the French techniques and reclaimed her roots as the Head Chef of the couple’s Portland restaurant. Between a variety of dumplings, skewers, pickles, meats and cheeses, and lots of vodka, Kachka serves as a tribute to Bonnie’s culture, pulling influences from Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Latvia and other Eastern European countries part of the former Soviet Union. The menu even adorns a “How To Eat Like a Russian” guide to ensure a proper experience.

Awards & Achievements

Throughout her career, Bonnie Morales has proved herself to be a talented chef and has been able to tell the story of her family through her food and her restaurant. Her ambition and skill has earned both Bonnie and Kachka numerous awards and achievements over the years, including a spot on Eater National’s “Best Restaurants in America” list in 2015, 2016, and 2017. In 2017, Bonnie was named to Portland Business Journal’s “Forty Under 40” list due to her accomplishments as a highly successful Portland business owner. Also in 2017, Chef Morales released her first cookbook, “Kachka: A Return to Russian Cooking” for which she received rave reviews. “With Kachka, Bonnie Morales has done something amazing: thoroughly update and modernize Russian cuisine while steadfastly holding to its traditions and spirit. Thank you comrade!” reviewed Food Network star Alton Brown. Bonnie has been featured in numerous publications, including Bon Appétit, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Elle, and Food & Wine. Most recently, she was a 2018 James Beard Awards finalist for Best Chef: Northwest.

About Martin + Fitch

Whether an office is looking to supply food for an occasional workplace party, a regular Friday happy hour or everyday lunches, Martin + Fitch can service your needs. With menus changing daily and inspired by the seasons, Martin + Fitch can provide delicious, better-for-you meal options for your employees. In addition, from photo shoots and drop off catering, to large full-service events, Martin + Fitch can help you choose your venue, hire staff and design the space.

Rachel Cusack

With a passion for the creative side of the business world, Rachel graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing. Through many years in customer service roles, she has developed strong people skills and an interest in how consumers interact with brands. Rachel strives to bring her experience in digital marketing and events to her role as a Marketing Associate at Corporate Essentials. She believes that life is just better with a cup of coffee and a great office culture is the first step in maximizing employee happiness.