Taste of the NFL Chef Chat: Lenny Russo of St. Paul, Minn.

lenny russo
In honor of the upcoming Taste of NFL’s Party with a Purpose, get to know the event’s participating chefs. Check back weekly to get to know other Taste of the NFL’s Party with a Purpose chefs from all over the nation!
Chef name: Lenny Russo
Restaurant and location: Heartland Restaurant & Farm Direct Market, St. Paul, Minnesota
Web site: www.heartlandrestaurant.com
Social media: @HeartlandStPaul; https://www.facebook.com/pages/Heartland-Restaurant-Farm-Direct-Market/123591657706129
What inspired you to take part in the Taste of the NFL’s Party with a Purpose? Having worked closely over the years with my good friend Wayne Kostrowski, I was both thrilled and humbled when he asked me to represent Minnesota for such a worthy cause. There can be no greater accomplishment than to bring sustenance to those in need.
Any hints as to what you’ll be dishing up at the party? Neiman Ranch has generously donated some of their sustainably raised pork for this event, and I will be suing it to create a country terrine with pickled vegetables and a house crafted mustard flavored with beer from St. Paul’s very own Summit Brewery.
Say you’re hosting a Super Bowl party. What dish do you serve to guests? It’s got to be some home cured and smoked pork ribs.
Have you always had a passion for the culinary arts? How did you get your start? I grew up in Italian immigrant family from Hoboken , NJ, and I was cooking dinner for the whole family by the age of ten. Later, I worked my way through college by working as a chef.
What do you love most about what you do? Providing to our guests wonderful, healthful food which is sourced from our local farms.
What are your goals for the coming year? I am leading our culinary team to Milan for the World Expo in 2015 where the theme is “Feeding the World.” I also have a cookbook coming out sometime next spring, the profits from which will be donated a wonderful food-focused St. Paul youth program called Urban Roots. I am also looking forward to working with The St. Paul Saints Northern league baseball team as their new ballpark opens next
What food bank are you representing? Second Harvest Heartland of Minnesota.
And a few fun faves…
Favorite Super Bowl memory: That has to be Broadway Joe Namath guaranteeing a win over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III and then delivering.
Favorite sports-watching snack: Pistachio nuts in the shell.
Favorite cocktail to whip up for Super Bowl guests: Anything with Iowa’s very own Templeton rye whiskey. I take mine simply on the rocks.

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