Hailing from Los Angeles, California, Chef Russell Jackson developed an early fascination for cooking by watching his mother prepare family dinners on the kitchen's match-lit stove. Intrigued, he made an early attempt at applesauce at age three and, in the process, launched a career experimenting in the kitchen.
Jackson left home at age 17 for the prestigious California Culinary Academy in San Francisco where he graduated with honors. Following graduation, he opened his first restaurant, Russell's, in Los Angeles. Chef Jackson also served as a personal chef during this time, counting A-list celebrities among his clientele. Throughout, he expanded his culinary oeuvre and learned the nuances of the restaurant business.
After nine years at Russell's, Chef Jackson again left Los Angeles and returned to San Francisco where his reputation, honed in Los Angeles, earned him the Head Chef role at the James Beard-nominated Black Cat. While applying his trademark approach developed at Russell's to the Black Cat, San Francisco culture began to shape Jackson's menu choices. It was during this time that Chef Jackson reunited with former colleagues and immersed himself in San Francisco's rich, cosmopolitan dining scene.
San Francisco's anti-authoritarian culture helped inspire his next and boldest move: SubCulture Dining (SCD), an underground dining club where the menu focused on sensible ingredients, many from Russell's own rooftop garden. SCD combined a darkly exciting atmosphere, a democratic application process, and a clientele ranging from worldly foodies to the young and inexperienced. SCD grew to win over San Francisco patrons, where the cozy atmosphere allowed Chef Jackson to use his distinctive personality to the best of his advantage.
In 2008, with now SCD a culinary institution, Chef Jackson sought a new challenge. That exploration became Lafitte, a San Francisco sparkler with a touch of culinary rebellion, beautifully situated on San Francisco's Embarcadero waterfront. Inspired by French brasseries and emphasizing local and fresh ingredients, Lafitte was Chef Jackson's stylistic counterpoint to SCD and showcased the more traditional side of Chef Jackson's style and fare.
Chef Jackson has twice entered the world of television. In 2013 he appeared on Iron Chef America where he battled Chef Jose Garces in a Rhubarb War. That same year Chef Jackson was a contestant on the hit reality show The Next Food Network Star where he became a fan favorite and finished third overall. In one memorable scene, having successfully created a bacon-candy product for a panel of food executives, one marketing executive noted his personality and skills, describing him as both endearing and bold, with a great television persona —a sentiment often echoed by the panel of judges that included Chefs Bobby Flay, Giada De Laurentiis, and Alton Brown.
Today, four restaurants launches later, and returning from the Food Network Kitchens, Chef Jackson remains active in the New York and San Francisco food scenes. SubCulture Dining is now a bi-coastal affair with a robust schedule and an ambitious agenda. He is currently working on new development projects in New York and San Francisco, and assists as a Board Member at WHED.org. Join him for his next culinary r(e)volution..