The Restaurant Connection: Andrew and Kristen Wood

Andrew and Kristen Wood own Russet.
Andrew and Kristen Wood own Russet.
Posted: February 16, 2012

Bio: He's 35, from Blueville, Pa.; she's 38, from Ohio. Married eight years, they live in South Philly with son Gus, 4 1/2.

Local restaurant connections: She's worked at James. He's been at Le Bec-Fin, Maia, Fork and James.

What's new? Russet (1521 Spruce St., 215-546-1521, russetphilly.com), their just-opened 50-seat BYOB in the former Ernesto's. Andrew controls the savory; Kristen handles all the sweets. He said: "It's been our dream to have a restaurant where we can do things to our vision."

Working together: "Keeps us challenging ourselves to move forward and keep growing together," he said.

Monthly date night: Kids hang in a private dining room (Russet provides the sitter) while parents dine in peace. "We know how difficult it can be. It's something we thought about to give back," he said.

The changing menu: "We get deliveries almost every day. What's perfect that day is what goes on the menu. I get bored pretty easy - I like to mix things up. Everything has to be fresh."

Back home: The couple divide household chores kind of like they do at the restaurant: Each sticks with his preferred skill. Though Andrew added, "Kristen claims I don't like her cooking, but that's not true."

Charcuterie master: Misty Meadow Acres raises Tamworth-Old Spot blend pigs for Russet. He said,"I like the connection to an older way of doing things. Get the whole animal in, cut it down until they're in parts and cure them. We cure the loins, the legs. We use everything."

Favorite ingredient: For Kristen, those are butter and cream.

Savory vs sweet: "I took over cooking dinner because my mom [a doctor] didn't have a lot of time," said Kristen. "Savory food was more of a chore. The pastries were more of an escape for me."

Her fave dessert? Making seasonal ice cream flavors. Salty caramel is a favorite.


Learn more about Philly-area restaurants and chefs at The Restaurant Connection, philly.com/restaurantconnect.

russetphilly.com

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