Food by VICE

The Owners of Portland's Kachka Say Adulthood Comes with a Second Fridge

In Bonnie Frumkin Morales' first fridge: preserves and breakfast burrito ingredients. In the second: booze.

by Farideh Sadeghin
Oct 15 2018, 6:00pm

All photos by the author.

Welcome to Fridge Tours, where we peek inside the personal refrigerators of chefs, bartenders, and food world personalities to see how they eat off the clock, in the privacy of their own homes. In this week's violation of personal space, we visit the home of Bonnie Frumkin Morales, chef of Kachka and Kachinka, which she owns with her husband Israel Morales.

I had just flown into Portland, dropped off my bag at the hotel, and made my way straight to Bonnie and Israel Morales’ home. Bonnie and Israel are the dynamic duo who own Portland’s beloved Russian restaurant Kachka, where Bonnie is head chef and Israel is the general manager, as well as Kachka’s newly-opened little sister restaurant, Kachinka. It was 5 PM on a Sunday, and they were getting ready to head out to Bonnie’s mom’s home for a Rosh Hashanah dinner. Their two children were running around, completely full of energy. If I hadn’t been traveling all day, I would have chased them around the house a bit more, but I had to take some pics of their fridge(s). They have two: one in the kitchen, and one in the garage. Bonnie mentioned that that was how she knew she had become an adult: two refrigerators. I hope to also be an adult someday.

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Bonnie

Names: Bonnie Frumkin Morales and Israel Morales

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Israel and Isaac

Jobs: Executive chef and general manager, respectively, of Kachka and Kachinka restaurants

How long have you lived at your current place? Since September 2016.

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Preserved lemons.

What is the oldest thing you have in your fridge? That batch of preserved lemons is from June 2017. I like using things up. I hate clutter so I try to not let things hang out too long.

Do you always keep caviar on hand? Ha! Unfortunately, no, but whenever I get samples from vendors, I always make sure to take home leftovers because our younger son, Isaac, is obsessed with caviar (I think we are setting him up for failure in adulthood).

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Russian payusnaya caviar.

What’s the story behind the Russian oil you have? It's from Danilovsky Market in Moscow. We took our staff on a trip last summer to Russia and Belarus and this market was a definite highlight. At markets in Russia and Ukraine, women sell their sunflower oils all next to each other and they are all slightly different tasting. The oil there is so mind blowing—so fresh and delicate. I want to put it on everything. Anyway, oil goes rancid pretty quickly at room temperature and since I've been savoring this oil so much, I store it in the fridge to make sure it doesn't go bad. I'm almost out though. Going to have to go back this summer, I think.

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Tasting Russian sunflower seed oil.

What kind of recipe testing are you doing at home? I’m working on a Roasted Banana Napoleon Cake. But I almost always work on dishes at home. There are fewer distractions and I can really take my time.

What do you do with the sweetened condensed milk? I stick it in my coffee, so that's why it's always around. Israel makes me a shaken coffee drink with it, which is the best. Other than that, I use it in cakes, ice cream, really all manner of desserts. Russian desserts rely heavily on sweetened condensed milk.

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Herbs kept in water to extend their lifespan after bringing them home.

What do you always have stocked in your fridge? Large flour tortillas—we are heavy into breakfast burritos. I make breakfast burritos with all manner of leftovers. Otherwise: eggs, cheese, Olympia Provisions sweetheart ham, radishes, olives, preserved lemons, miso, a salad green of some sort, butter, and bell peppers (for kid lunches).

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Sum up your fridge. I hate clutter, so I try to end up with an almost empty fridge before we go grocery shopping again. I'd rather have a handful of really thoughtfully made products, then a fridge full of junk. I don't cook with a ton of ingredients so, again, I'd say it's pretty minimalist. We also have two kids, so that does mean that we make some concessions for convenience. My pre-parent self would never buy mayonnaise—I prefer freshly made—but when you are packing lunches five days a week and need to get out the door in time, you've gotta have it.

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Who painted the heart on the outside? Noah, our nine year-old.

How many kinds of preserves do you have in there? Lemons, persimmons, plums… sea buckthorn, strawberry, quince—those last two were just cracked open this week.

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Fridge #2 filled almost exclusively with alcohol.
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Freezer, too.

How do you use the miso? I love glazing veggies with it. In soups or braises. A warm vinaigrette. On popcorn. I dunno, a lot of places. It's so versatile and adds so much depth.

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Kachka's custom horseradish-infused vodka.