10 Questions: Russell Hodges

He is responsible, indirectly, for the cooking in many of the city's restaurants.

That's right--Hodges is one of those teaching chefs. Currently at the AIMS Academy and in the process of advancing his academic credentials through the Certified Executive Chef exam, he has trained hundreds of culinary professionals over ten years of kitchen instruction.

But he's also a real, working chef. Hodges opened Suze and then Iris. He also spent five years working with Stephan Pyles at the old Routh Street Cafe.

Fine--he knows how to cook and teach. Why does he have a thing against Happy Days?...


1. When you're teaching, do you have to taste the students' mistakes? Yeah, but we want them to make mistakes. We want them to make their mistakes in school, not in a restaurant kitchen. You can't provide much guidance when they are already perfect.

2. Do you miss the restaurant world? My knees and my back don't. But I still have enthusiasm for all things restaurant.

3. So if I said 'those who can't, teach' you would say...? [Laughs] Those who can't cook, teach. Those who can't teach, write.

4. Is cooking school like college? Do you find kids sleeping in class? We have blowtorches, you know.

5. Do you have time now to eat out? I do. I love Bolsa. I love York St. And I like, when I have the money, Stephan Pyles and Fearing's.

6. What is the worst trend in the restaurant industry? I have a personal one. I abhor valet parking. But the worst is a lack of proper communication between the chef and the wait staff. How often do you have a waiter misrepresent a dish when describing it? This is because the chef didn't have meeting with the staff. The easy thing is to blame the waiter, but the waiter is only as good as what is communicated to him.

7. The best trend? The best is chefs getting involved in sustainable products, getting involved with local farmers...and not putting foam on everything. I'm foamed out.

8. Happy Days: Chachi or no Chachi? I always thought Andy Dick should have played Chachi. Or Pauly Shore, because they're both...you know. All the young actresses used to date Scott Baio. When he was through, they went to Andy Dick or Pauly Shore, right?

9. Do you think Mrs. Cunningham was a good cook? I think Mr. C drank a lot.

10. But don't you miss the tuna cassarole days? No, I don't.


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