Russ Aaron Simon
Embraced by yachts cruising along the Intracoastal, and a swanky dining room open to the bustling water activity with Instagram ready sunsets, Chef Russ Aaron Simon has found the perfect foil at GG’s Waterfront in Hollywood, FL for his seasonal/sustainable ethos and inspired interpretations of classic and international foods. He has, since 2000, cooked in some of the top kitchens in the Wolfgang Puck collection around the world. Starting at Wolfgang Puck Grand Café in Orlando, he worked his way up the culinary ladder. In 2004 Chef Russ moved to Los Angeles to start training... READ MORE
Embraced by yachts cruising along the Intracoastal, and a swanky dining room open to the bustling water activity with Instagram ready sunsets, Chef Russ Aaron Simon has found the perfect foil at GG’s Waterfront in Hollywood, FL for his seasonal/sustainable ethos and inspired interpretations of classic and international foods. He has, since 2000, cooked in some of the top kitchens in the Wolfgang Puck collection around the world. Starting at Wolfgang Puck Grand Café in Orlando, he worked his way up the culinary ladder. In 2004 Chef Russ moved to Los Angeles to start training under his future mentor, Chef Lee Hefter, at Spago in Beverly Hills. During the first few years at that flagship emporium he contributed as part of the team that earned the restaurant two Michelin stars, along with James Beard awards for the “Best Service” and “Best Chef” for Hefter. That formative experience led Wolfgang Puck to promote Chef Russ to posts ranging from The Source in Washington, D.C., to the opening team for Spago in Beaver Creek, Colorado, CUT by Wolfgang Puck in Las Vegas (and later at the Singapore and Hyde Park, London locations), then back to Las Vegas at Postrio as the Chef d’ Cuisine before his final assignment at Spago at the St. Regis in Istanbul. After so much travel and relocation, the idea of setting down roots and the opportunity to spread his wings beckoned. Chef Russ opened American English in his hometown of Hollywood two years ago to critical acclaim for his sophisticated rendering of comfort foods which caught the attention of owners Dan and Lise-Ann Serafini who later sought him out to command the kitchen at GG’s.
To understand what makes Chef Russ tick you have to go no further than his iPhone. He’ll happily scroll though dozens of pages showing the development and corrective notes of his bread recipes over a recent 6-month period. It describes a tale of a perfectionist seeking not only the best ingredients and technique but also his attention to a trial and error process to achieve a taste and texture that will be memorable rather than pedestrian. And all this effort and obsession for something that most others might just call on a local bakery to provide.
Chef Russ uses what is “best at the moment” from farms, vineyards and the sea with an emphasis on vibrant colors, flavor combinations, and ethnic seasonings to create interesting interpretations of familiar dishes. He’s a habitué of the nearby Yellow Green Farmer’s Market and tastes just about everything at the small eateries there on weekend forays. This underscores his fascination with the melting pot of cuisines he came in contact with while cooking all over the world. For example, he loves what black Chinese garlic brings to a vinaigrette – a soft finish yet still garlicky, or firing up a Vietnamese-style fish sauté incorporating anchovy liquor for perfect umami. He’ll prepare lamb in a sous vide process to ensure a moist, evenly cooked interior, then char broil it to add a crunchy texture on the outside coated with spices while caramelizing the marinade… a better and more flavorful result than traditional oven braising. GG’s is known for seafood and Chef Russ is excited to offer sustainable entrees that he’ll pair with interesting accompaniments like baby zucchini blossoms. And if you ask him about steak his face lights up and he says “I loved my years at CUT, Wolfgang Puck’s steakhouse concept, and will bring lots of that experience to the grills at GG’s.”
Russ is a collaborative chef, as a result of his over 15 years with Wolfgang Puck, and his goal is to develop the talents in his kitchen. You’ll often see him demonstrating preparations and he politely answers questions from his cooks. “The best ideas come from the kitchen team and there’s lots of eagerness here,” he says. “I emphasize the importance of technique which never goes out of style. I believe that chef’s who do things right are very good at conventional cooking – it’s fundamental and connects one with the world. And I live by the idea of not resting on your laurels if you want to take a restaurant to another level.”READ LESS