Russell Jackson, better known as The Dissident Chef and one of the first SF pioneers leading the underground dining charge of the last few years, is finally debuting his permanent home on Pier 5 next Tuesday, April 6th, called Lafitte. The restaurant, now at least two years in the planning, is named for a famed 19th century smuggler and pirate based in Louisiana, Jean Baptiste Lafitte, and Jackson chose the name because it embodies his revolutionary, dissident, and underground-successful aims.
Prior to founding Subculture Dining way back in 2006, Jackson was a professional chef both here and at his former restaurant Russell’s in L.A.
A few quotes, to give you a sense of his style as a chef:
From the Subculture Dining Website, under the heading “The Pirates of NoCa”:
“A good kitchen respects its sources, chooses ingredients that are sound, seasonal, local when possible, and appropriate to the event. Garnish and presentation play supplemental roles, not principal ones. Respect for traditions, both artisan and sophisticated, is equal to respect for inventiveness and improvisation.”
From a July 2008 interview with 7x7, way back when he was first talking up Lafitte:
“I want to create a restaurant that the city can really rally behind, a restaurant built with love, like Zuni Café. I am a chef of logic, so I try to do what makes sense. What can I get access to? What do I have at my disposal? I will change the menu every single day—or even midstream. Like a jazz musician, I’m reactive.”
In re: signature menu items:
“I’m working on this 18th century chicken dish, but it’ll be an off-the-menu item, so you’ll have to know to ask for it three days in advance. Signature items are great—what a nice position to be in, to not be able to change something because people love it so much. But ask Judy Rodgers [chef/owner of Zuni] how she feels about that burger. I once made a chocolate brownie pie back when I was at Russell’s, and that dish followed me like the plague. I love that dessert, but you won’t see me making it at Lafitte.”
And in re: his food philosophy:
“I try to please every single diner. I want them to leave drunk, fed and fucking happy. If they do, I did my job. I try to get better at what I do every day. My staff tries to get better. And in the end, that’s what this is about: A guy and his crew doing their best to feed you right.”
He’s a serious food guy, and it will be fascinating to see this new chapter in his career unfold. Grub Street will bring you a slideshow of the newly remodeled interior at Pier 5 next week.
Earlier: Subculture Dining Finally Waves Goodbye [Grub Street]
New Restaurant: Russell Jackson’s Lafitte [7x7]