District Meats exec chef Jeff Russell on food trends, Paula Deen and spring
Biggest compliment you're ever received: It's hard to say, but when people tell you that you just served them the best meal they've ever had, that makes you feel pretty good.
Culinary heroes: George Higgins, a certified master baker who was also my baking and pastry instructor at CIA and taught us that you don't need to do intricately involved pastries to make great desserts. He was all about the basics and fundamentals, doing it right and doing it well. My late grandmother, Virginia Defendorf, was a home-economics teacher and cookbook author, and she was the one who told me that if I wanted to be a chef, then I had to eat everything. I was a picky eater growing up. I also admire Anthony Bourdain for his ability to tell things like they are and not dress them up, and I have a ton of respect for Pierre Gagnaire and what he's managed to accomplish with French cuisine over the past twenty years.
Favorite celebrity chef: Thomas Keller and, of course, Charlie Palmer. They're both such humble individuals who are so connected to all of their projects. You feel that a part of them is behind every dish at all of their restaurants.
Celebrity chef who needs a muzzle: Paula Deen is just evil. That's that.
If you could cook in another chef's kitchen, whose would it be? Pierre Gagnaire, because I love the way he transformed French cuisine. "Facing tomorrow but respectful of yesterday" is his mission statement at his self-named restaurant -- and it's a quote that many chefs live by today.
What's your dream restaurant? A small, intimate setting with fun and amazing food on Martha's Vineyard.