FARMINGTON — The Rebel Chef is ready to start a food revolution here. Staff said they hope to wow guests with gracious service, fine cuisine and a menu that pairs international world flavors with classic American comfort foods.
The Rebel Chef name reflects owner and head chef Keith Russell's cooking style. Those who know and love him openly call him a food artist who can take a few ingredients and create a tasty, artful entrée in a short time without a need for a recipe.
"We are rebelling against the standards in this industry and there are no limits to the Rebel Chef, just like there are no limits to being a rebel," the 33-year-old Russell said smiling.
The native Minnesotan grew up in Eagan and started exploring the kitchen at a young age.
"My mom comes from French Canada and she is really into baking, and I spent a lot of time in the kitchen with my mom and trying out foods and I was never really picky," Russell said.
He worked at the former Mediterranean Cruise in Eagan at age 14 as a dishwasher and began helping prep food in high school. Later, he worked at private country club kitchen. He learned all kinds of cooking techniques in California, he said, where he worked to create a farm-to-table delivery of Chinese food.
"I believe that international food is one way that people communicate with each other and we want to be able to share, and maybe you don't speak their language but you both understand that flavor of that food," Russell said.
"We want people to come in and experience that international flavor but our food will still have that classic American touch," he added.
Upon being seated, guests will be served complimentary warm, homemade bread with apple cinnamon butter made by fellow chef and friend Danny Higgs, who is a Twin Cities chef legend of more than 50 years, having worked in many kitchens, owned a restaurant and been a pastry chef for Keys Café & Bakery.
Appetizers or small plates will be available. One staple will be chicken wings served in four fusion ways: covered with barbeque sauce created from Higgs using cane sugar, Thai peanut sauce, a creole and a dry rub with Arabic seasonings served with seasoned sour cream.
"We are expecting people to come and say, 'This is wow food' and I am looking forward to helping him build this," Higgs said. "I call myself the food scientist and I know my way around the kitchen, and I do it for the love of it and for the passion."
The two chefs will cook together like two peas in a pod, said Leslie Walsh, a baker who will help manage the restaurant.
"They will complement each other with Keith's California style and Danny is from Tennessee. so he will bring his soul cooking and barbeque," Walsh said.
She is having fun creating homemade desserts along with guidance from Russell's mother. Decadent desserts will include a fancy pistachio cheesecake, a flourless chocolate torte, a berry cobbler skillet and a family-friendly s'mores cobbler skillet.
The Rebel Chef at 953 Eighth St. will be open seven days a week and offer fresh, homemade, farm-to-table entrees from a seasonal menu.