Get to know Jennifer Russo, chef and owner of The Market Restaurant and Bar by Jennifer’s in Phoenix.
Have you always been interested in the culinary arts?
Yes! I started in this crazy business at Lewis Steven’s Catering Company when I was 16 years old. I didn’t even have my driver’s license yet. I would ride my bike or my younger brother Todd would give me a ride on his moped.
How did you transition from a caterer to having your own restaurant?
I still cater. Actually because of opening the restaurant I’m catering more than ever. That is the reason I opened the MARKET. My clients would tell me they wished they could have our food more than just at catered events. So I lost my mind and opened a restaurant. All jokes aside it’s been an amazing experience.
What is a must-try on the fall menu?
The three meat. It’s a dish my mother came up with years ago. And then I put the MARKET twist on it. Bistro filet, Italian sausage, and a roasted chicken leg. Super hardy.
What ingredients and/or dishes should at-home chefs try out this fall?
I’m using butternut squash in a couple of dishes from soups to cocktails. I’m a big fan.
Any holiday cooking tips for the at-home chef?
Don’t forget to season your food. You work so hard, shopping and preparing such a beautiful meal. The last thing you want is it to fall flat.
What is your holiday cooking specialty?
Christmas day is all about eating. We usually have quite a large crew. So we start with appetizers, which almost everything is seafood based. Taking from the Italian tradition of the Seven Fishes. This is where I love to go big. Huge shrimp with roasted tomato, garlic and herb sauce, clams in white wine and butter, king crab legs with drawn butter and lemon, creamy crab dip with the MARKET’s lavish, and smoke salmon with all the fixings. And a lot of crusty bread and wine of course. After taking a breather, dinner gets started with lasagna bolognes, Braciole, roasted root vegetables and an escarole salad. Then we finish with some incredible desserts that my mom brings.
Fave pizza topping? I’m a purest. I love a margarita.
Fave dessert? I love a great cookie. On the new fall/winter menu @ the MARKET, we have a cookie and milk Nosh board. It’s pretty killer.
Fave cocktail or bottle of wine? It’s so hard to choose one. Pastou Sancerre, La Spinetta Rose Contratto, LOLA dry reisling, just to name a few.
Fave midnight snack? Wine.
Fave cereal? Cheerios.