MEET THE CHEF
Setting the New Standard
Russell grew up on farm in the northern Wairarapa. His appreciation of great food started in those early days and little did he realise he was learning what is now very on trend – cooking garden to plate "cooking seasonally makes sense as the flavours are at their best, and it keeps the food costs down".
Russell left his farming roots to further his studies at Victoria Uni in Wellington. While studying he applied for a part time job at the then Park Royal, which ended up shaping his future. He found his passion in cooking and trained as a saucier and so his food journey began.
In no time at all Russell travelled to Australia, settled in Melbourne and worked for the next 4 years in several popular Melbourne restaurants. His hard work and enthusiasm saw him climb the ranks to become a Head chef. On the move again in the early 90’s Russell decided to move on and travelled to the UK where again started working his way up from the bottom in one of London’s trendiest restaurants (Kensington Place). It didn't take long for him to work his way up in various popular restaurants working as Head Chef at one of London's oldest Institutions, Bertorellis and finally Executive Chef at the National Gallery. Further training and experience were also gained by travelling to the South of France and the Highlands of Scotland where he was hired as a personal chef to the rich and famous, including royalty.
All this amazing experience gave Russell the confidence to open his own restaurant /delicatessen in the heart of Mayfair. He was the first to pioneer the restaurant/deli style in London. His style of casual relaxed restaurant became a trend, and it is exciting to reflect that Russell’s cooking style was instrumental in new and innovative dining styles. The Restaurant quickly become the local’s favourite as well as a destination restaurant. Over the years it developed a following and catered for many private functions and events for some of London’s “it” crowd.
With a young family and the changes in London the green pastures of home were calling. It wasn’t hard decision to say goodbye to a daily 4 hour commute and missing out on time with his family.
Moving back to the Wairarapa has been like coming full circle. Russell together with his partner Louise have set up Garage Kitchen and are enjoying creating amazing dishes for locals and visitors to the Wairarapa region.