Over a decade ago, Russ Bodner left St. Louis to enter the exciting world of accounting in an even more exciting place—Indiana. Russ eventually realized crunching numbers didn't flex his creative juices and traded in his calculator for culinary school in New York. It wasn't long before he found himself in the Michelin-starred kitchen of Anthos, the haute Greek restaurant helmed by Food Network veterans Michael Psilakis (the bald guy who isn't Michael Symon) and Donatella Arpaia. Russ eventually left the concrete jungle for greener pastures, heading south to Alabama to deep fry okra with chef Rob McDaniel at SpringHouse, a restaurant specializing in "Progressive Southern" fare, before becoming the executive chef of Kowaliga. It was in Alabama that Russ honed his unique blend of fine Southern comfort food with a global influence, something we can all thank him for.
A stint in the snowy mountains of Aspen followed by a series of pop-up dinners across the country, Russ has finally made the long journey back to St. Louis, and we're all hoping that he'll stay awhile.
My spoons—the plating spoons that I use for all my dishes. For appliances, it’s the Vitamix.
SUMMER TIME FAVORITES
Tomatoes—heirloom and cherry. Summer squash. Something that’s hard to get in St. Louis: okra. Field peas, like lima beans, cow peas, and lady peas.
THE BEST BURGER
Two thin patties, American cheese, sunny side up egg, pain de mie bun.
WEAPON OF CHOICE
A microplane. Have you ever scratched yourself with a microplane? It doesn’t heal quickly. [Ed. Note: Russ is a sadist]
WHERE I PIZZA
I like Coalfired Pizza in Chicago—it’s a nice wood-burning coal oven place; Motorino in New York; my Dad’s killer pizza—homemade dough and all; Mother Bear’s in Bloomington, Indiana.
WHAT I PIZZA
A little bit of fresh Chilton County peaches or Eckert’s in St. Louis), honey, thyme, a bit of blue cheese; oil and garlic base.
DATE NIGHT SURPRISE
Grilled beef tenderloin and a simple sliced tomato salad with a bit of sherry vinegar, thyme, basil, and onion.
MY CAREER IN A DISH
Sheep’s milk ricotta dumplings with crawfish and fresh vegetables.
St. Louis, MO
Anthos, Kowaliga, SpringHouse, Taste
WHAT I COOK
Southern, Greek, Italian
Artisan Meat Share
Brooklyn Fare (NYC)
Saigon Vietnamese Sandwich Deli (NYC)
FOLLOW RUSS ON INSTAGRAM.