Bonnie & Israel Morales | Modern Adventure

Bonnie & Israel Morales

Chefs and Founders, Kachka

Sometimes passion comes at odds with the best business sense. Or seems to. Bonnie and Israel found a way to combine what they felt they had to do – opening a restaurant based on homecooking of the former Soviet Union – even if it didn’t exactly seem like a surefire hit. Bonnie, who grew up eating her Belarusian parents’ cooking, noted, “We felt if we don’t, nobody will.” And their creation, Portland’s Kachka, became the country’s hottest Russian restaurant (covered dotingly by The New York Times and Food & Wine) and spawned the first Russian-based cookbook in the US in decades.

The couple is detailed in their devotion. Stepping into Kachka, and the vodka bar Kachinka, is like stepping into another world. You’re met with ‘70s-style Soviet wallpaper Bonnie’s mom picked out, communist-era propaganda posters and a fun all-Russian soundtrack – plus lots of vodka. The star attraction, of course, is the surprisingly fresh, varied menu that ranges from a Georgian khachapuri cheese bread and house-cured fish boards to Siberian dumplings, chased by horseradish-infused vodka shots. (Yes, please!) Bonnie and Israel deliver it all with classic “intense hospitality,” the truest import from former Soviet cultures.