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Q&A with Chef Russell Cameron

Posted by Chelsea Ballantyne on

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?
1) Pizza!
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:
Catch Chef Russell at his first class, Knife Skills 101 on May 11th
Purchase your tickets here

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