Name: Chad Russell
When did you start working at AllSpice?
About 4 years ago? Time goes by so fast.
How did you come to be at AllSpice?
[AllSpice owner] Rory asked me to help out one holiday season and he never had the good sense to ask me to leave.
What do you do at AllSpice?
Break up the tomfoolery on Fridays with random bouts of work.
What is your favorite ingredient at the store?
That’s tough. We sell really great things. There are the ingredients that are popular among our customers for good reason: Vanilla Paste, Black Truffle Salt, Berbere Blend, and, of course, Traditional Balsamic. But then there are also my go-tos that really punch up dishes. Tomato and Worcestershire powders are amazing for adding complex and meaty notes to sauces and meat dishes. Smoked Sweet Paprika really punches up the flavor profile of almost anything from eggs, to pork, even a simple tomato sauce.
I love to cook and try different styles of cooking. It’s amazing how the world’s cuisines start of with many of the same ingredients but they end up being completely different. Cabbage can become curtido in Central America, kim chi in Korea, stuffed cabbage rolls in Central Europe, and good ol’ corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day.
What is the most difficult dish you have ever prepared? Would you make it again?
I’ve attempted making a soufflé about a dozen times and it was almost successful once. I think there’s a reason people don’t make them much. Who wants to be bossed around by their food? “Don’t open the oven door!” “I’m ready now. I don’t care if you’re topping off drinks. I said now!”
A soufflé is like a difficult friend: We all have those people we only see every few years; after we see them, we say, “Why do I even bother?” And then you repeat the process a few years down the road. So, yes, in answer to your question, even though the outcome is questionable, I’ll probably try the recipe again — and shake my head after.
I think it’s such a great compliment when someone invites me over to share something they’ve taken the time and care to make by hand. It doesn’t matter, in the end, whether it’s simple or complex — someone sharing a plate of something they’ve made makes the cold days warmer and the sunny ones seem brighter.
Do you have a food that is your guilty pleasure, and if so, what is it?
I rarely feel guilty about much, but there are a few things from childhood that make me lose all self-control. Ham Salad, butter mints, and those evil pickle wraps.
What is your favorite thing to do at the store?
I love meeting the people who come in. We attract a range of people to the store, from noted area chefs, to moms who are trying to figure out how to shake up Wednesday’s chicken breast with steamed vegetables. It’s very cool when I can help someone out. It’s even cooler when I can learn from them.
I love trying to figure things out. Like when someone comes in and says, “I had this dish on vacation and I’d love to try to make it.” Or “There used to be this spice blend….” Sometimes I nail it and sometimes I help someone find something they love but might not have thought to try before. Either way, it’s fun.
What is your favorite thing (or things) to do when you are not at AllSpice?
I love to travel, volunteer, and eat. I’m happiest when I can combine all three of those together.
Do you have another job or do you go to school?
I am a public policy and operations consultant when I’m not having fun at AllSpice.