PRO-PORTRAIT: Chef-Owner Russell Jackson—“this is my heart out on a palette.”

Russell Jackson says he works 8 days a week, and we believe him. He’s run restaurants and kitchens in Los Angeles and San Francisco for more than three decades, and has built a brand persona as The Dissident Chef in sub-culture dining. And now, he’s venturing into celebrity-chef territory, with a deal with Hidden Valley Ranch, talks of book deals, and television appearances.

Russell can currently be found at Lafitte, his restaurant at Pier 3 along the Embarcadero in San Francisco where he is chef-owner. He generously spent nearly two hours with THE FIVE on a recent afternoon, and opened up to us about his rebel persona, and a personal understanding that everything he does is about being “in-service to people.”

“I tend to be a polarizing figure. I tend to open my mouth up a little too much sometime for my own good.”—that’s the Dissident Chef coming out. We also found his salty mouth but gentle persona a charming conflict.

Lafitte is his fifth business. He’s run restaurants in Los Angeles, and kitchens in San Francisco. He’s also been a roadie chef to rock bands such as Counting Crows, and a private chef to billionaire households (including with one Fortune 50 CEO who was just released from jail). Each venture has had a different level of success, but at his core, he runs restaurants. “That’s what I do.”  Russell knows how to raise money, and build-out the space. And in his words, “hopefully if you build it, they will come.”

“I am a trained professional. This is what I do for a living. And this is the expression of my art. Like it, or don’t like it, this is my heart out on a palette.”


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