Food Finds

Taste of the Town: Greg Kucera

The ace curator proves his eye for the fine goes beyond the canvas.

By Hilary Meyerson March 15, 2011

Greg Kucera grins at the thought of Le Pichet’s chicken liver mousse.

Starving artist? How about starving curator?

“When I first opened [the gallery], I didn’t have staff, so every morning for almost a year I would go to the old Cherry Street Deli and have three eggs, three strips of bacon, and three pancakes with lots of butter and honey to tide me over until dinner,” recalls Greg Kucera nearly three decades after launching his eponymous art gallery in downtown Seattle.

But it wasn’t eggs-bacon-pancakes and grumbling tummies for long: soon after its 1983 debut the gallery would ascend to local and national renown, and Kucera was on his way to chicken liver mousse and Neapolitan pies.

Vita, Stumptown, or Starbucks?
I’m a bad Seattleite. I never did drink coffee—saved the thousands of dollars over the years and spent it on art instead. I go to Caffe Vita in Pioneer Square, but only for the happy hour pizzas a few times a week.

Eat to live or live to eat?
Definitely live to eat. Copious amounts of food, thoughtfully prepared, voraciously eaten, rarely regretted.

Where do you take out-of-town guests to eat?
Poppy, Lark, Salumi, Cafe Lago, La Carta de Oaxaca, Wild Ginger, and The Ruins, now that they have a great new dinner chef.

What’s your guilty food pleasure?
Chicken liver mousse with French bread at Le Pichet.

Do you use recipes or wing it?
Wing it! Fly high most of the time, but occasionally bomb out when trying too hard. Some of our best meals are “What’s in the fridge?” kinds of meals. I love to read Cooks Illustrated for informational, how-to-do-it ideas but I often think that creative common sense trumps most recipe writing.

Are you or have you ever been a vegan?
Can’t even imagine all that I’d be giving up. It’s the cheese that I’d have the hardest time resisting.

What’s your desert-island condiment?
Hollandaise sauce! Buckets of it for all that wild boar and spear-caught fish.

Dessert or appetizer?
Appetizers, for sure. My sweet tooth isn’t that fierce but I can often make a meal out of small plates.

Three restaurants that sum up Seattle?
The warmth of the old Surrogate Hostess, the consistent comfort of Cafe Lago, the inventive clarity of Poppy. I’ve also been missing Labuznik. Nothing has taken its place for style and substance.

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