Question 1: Where did you get your start?
“Like a lot of kids where I grew up, I worked at McDonald’s flipping burgers (still think I hold the most burgers flipped in one day at the Broadway/Ocean Ave. location). I also tossed pizzas and was a delivery boy.
My first real kitchen job was at a modern California/French restaurant on Sunset Blvd in Los Angeles as a cook.”
Question 2: What is your favorite dish?
“One of the best bites I’ve ever had was my best chef friend, Dominique Crenn’s “mini salad bites” she made while crafting the menu at Atelier Crenn. It was so small and beautiful but the flavors were HUGE. It was bright and balanced – like eating a beautifully composed spring salad in the south of France with a tangy sweet banyuls vinaigrette, yet there was no dressing. It was mind blowing, because it was “bigger on the inside”, so to speak.”
Question 3: What was your favorite dish as a child?
“My favorite dish as a child was a Bob’s BigBoy hamburger.
It’s a reminder of how simple a dish can be, yet how classic and nostalgic it can make you feel.”
Question 4: Who inspired you to be a chef?
“Early in my career, I have to admit it was Julia Child and Wolfgang Puck. I respected them and they attracted me to food service.
Now, I pay homage to the masters, Jean George Vongerichten and Marco Pierre White – my overall style emulates them.”
Question 5: What would you be doing if you weren’t a chef?
“I studied Geology and thought I’d pursue Marine Biology for a period of time in my life. However, I was just fooling myself.
It’s always been a forgone conclusion that I was going to be a cook and hospitality anarchist.”
Question 6: What advice can you give an aspiring chef?
Open your ears, heart and mind…
Recognize you know nothing…
Stay humble and finally…
Pay your dues as all great chefs have.
You must bleed, stand, eat and sweat for years like we all have. There’s no ‘uberization’ or shortcuts if you truly wish to lead. Pay the price of admission to the ‘chef gods’.”
Question 7: What advice can you give a chef trying to advance
“Be fearless, don’t take yourself too seriously, but take others seriously. Learn to say “YES” before you ever think of uttering “NO”. Work harder than you think you ever could. Stay willing and continue to learn every day (even your youngest cook can still teach you).
When you’re truly ready, (and who the hell knows when that is) RISK IT ALL.
And most importantly – never, ever give up!”
Connect with Chef Russell Jackson:
WANT TO BE FEATURED?