We’re sneaking behind the kitchen door again for our second post in the Industry Chats series and this time we’re snagging some time with Executive Chef Jordan Russell of Stephi’s on Tremont to get to know him better. At Stephi’s they serve what they call “homestyle sophisticated comfort food.” Chef Russell is the ideal fit for the job as he classifies his style of cooking as homey and soulful comfort with a high end flare.
Chef Russell gains influence from his well-traveled childhood. He comes from a military family, born in Germany but raised close to Amish Country in Pennsylvania where he was surrounded by a lot of Dutch influences. He attended culinary school at Johnson and Wales in Rhode Island where he got an AS in Culinary Arts and a BS in Entrepreneurship with a concentration in Psychology.
German Chocolate Cake
Chef Russell is also well-traveled within the industry, dabbling a little in the front of house more recently. In 2010 he interned with the Augusta Nation Golf Club, home of the Masters Tournament, where he cooked for pro golfers and celebrities such as Tiger Woods, Phil Mickleson, Bill Gates, George Lopez, Sandra Day O’Connor, and many others. He then returned to Boston and worked for the Stephanie’s Restaurant Group but left for a year to run a bar and restaurant. He came back last summer to bartend, wanting to get a feel for how things worked in the front of house. Russell came full-circle when he was asked to return to the kitchen this past September and soon after was appointed Executive Chef at Stephi’s.
5 Questions with Chef Jordan Russell
What do you eat late at night/early morning after a long shift?
“I’m always a huge fan of the late night Spanish food. Something about the spices, textures, flavors and overall culture just sooth the soul. I’m not big on traditional American foods. I prefer cuisine from other cultural influences. I could eat Japanese cuisine any day of the week. Since I’m not really a morning person, I save those breakfast style foods for when I’m with family.”
Who is your biggest inspiration in life?
“I started cooking at a very young age with my parents and grandparents. I developed the interest of pursuing this as a lifetime gig at 11 or 12 years of age. My parents and grandparents taught me how to cook with love, whereas chefs from kitchens I’ve worked in gave me the talent and techniques to show case that love.”
What is your one go-to dish that you can make in your sleep? Who taught you to make this dish?
“This is always an interesting question for me. Many chefs are asked this and many have a specific answer. For me, I enjoy knowing what someone likes, dislikes, and what they maybe in the mood for, then go from there. Creativity is the main reason I am a chef. I love to expose people who are unfamiliar to/dislike certain things and change their outlook on it, by manipulating textures and flavors, then present it in a new light. I cook for the soul and not the stomach.”
Soft Shell Crab
What is your favorite dish in Boston?…Not from your own restaurant.
“If you got tots or a Reuben on the menu, consider it ordered. I will say though, Artu in the North End, has an amazing octopus app that I absolutely love. I haven’t been in a while so it may not be on their menu BUT it has always been a favorite of mine.”
Are there any foods you hate?
“There really isn’t anything I won’t eat. I’m not picky at all. I will say as a chef I’ve gotten over the hullabaloo of lobsters and crabs fairly quickly. The amount of exposure to ‘high end’ seafood makes you want it less and less. At the end of the day I laugh because friends and family will joke and call me the human garbage disposal. Food is my passion. I’ll try anything once and very rarely dislike it.”
Stephi’s really captures the essence of the South End neighborhood and is the last stop on our South End Sweet & Savory Tour. Be sure to pay Stephi’s on Tremont a visit soon to taste Jordan Russell’s soul-nourishing food!
571 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02118
Tags: comfort food, industry, off hours, south end, stephi's on tremont
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