We sat down with Chef Russell, our first resident House Chef, to discover what inspires him, how he was dared to switch careers and became a chef and the best ingredients for delicious cooking…
When did you know you wanted to be a chef?
14 years ago a close friend dared me to switch careers. He asked me what I’d do if earnings/money wasn’t an issue. “I’d cook!”, I replied.
I left my life as an actuarial student. I sold everything and started taking steps toward my goal. My first job in the Hollyhock kitchen gave me experience and direct connection with the source of food – the garden, and of course, the gardeners!
This experience was a tremendous reminder of the inter-relatedness of earth and people in the production of food. For my second job, I was fortunate to work for a Chef who taught me about serving people, about the craft of cooking and to cook with passion.
After that, I was inspired to go to culinary school and to work at several renown restaurants to become a Chef!
You are stranded on a deserted island, what five foods would you want with you?
2) Apple Pie
3) Salad Nicoise
4) Pierre-Luigi’s pasta
5) Fire cooked salmon
What is your best food memory?
Visiting my friend’s father (Pierre-Luigi) in Italy when I was 17 years old. Each evening his dad would come home from work and prepare the most delicious 3 course meal from scratch.
I let go of all my food sensitivities and tried everything! – cheese, squid, gelato!, coffee, carpaccio, grapa! It was all so delicious!! It was a breakthrough moment in my life & the beginning of my love for good food and sharing it with friends and family!
What’s your secret ingredient for delicious cooking?
I ask myself – what is abundant & how can I best prepare it in a way that is simple, delicious and nourishing?
Funniest kitchen incident?
There’s two – one evening during a busy dinner rush I forgot to put the primary ingredient on an appetizer (I sent out an octopus salad without octopus) – haha!
The second experience was when I was Chef at our School’s restaurant. My education was at an all French culinary school in Montreal. And once in a while I’d make little mistakes speaking French.
During a busy lunch rush I yelled out an order for 4 “connards” instead of “canards”. Canard means duck. Connard means asshole. Hesterical laughter ensued. It took a moment before my fellow students and instructor could continue with the rest of the lunch rush…
Chef Russell’s Kitchen Essentials: