Photos courtesy of Russell Nelson
San Francisco biotech scientist Russell Nelson holds the record for most Feastly events attended, coming in at a whopping 135 and counting. Naturally, he was the unanimous choice to kick off our “Featured Feaster” column! From tacos and homemade bagels to omakase and hot pot, Russ’ feasting preferences know no bounds. We caught up with him between meals to find out why he loves dining with strangers.
His first Feastly event
My first Feastly dinner was at a chef’s apartment. I had thought this was to be the norm but have since found out it is quite rare in the Feastly world. It was a taco dinner which began with wine and appetizers shared over the kitchen bar with the other attendees. We then settled in the living room on comfy chairs and couches for the rest of the dinner. It did seem a bit strange juggling the plate of food on my lap instead of eating at a table.
A memorable Feasting experience
At one dinner with Geoffrey Reed (Ichido), he brought out a small dish filled with seaweed and tiny (~3/4 inch) blue-green crabs slowly moving around. We were able to have them crawl onto our fingers if we wanted. Fortunately, I did not name the one on my finger as he came back a bit later, bright red and crunchy!
Favorite part about attending popups
I currently enjoy attending many different performing arts shows – dance, music and theater. Delicious food is another passion of mine. On the evenings where I have no show to attend, I see if Feastly has something interesting happening. With Feastly, I have found that watching the food preparation and interactions with the chefs are actually another category of performing arts! I also really enjoy finding a new taste sensation. My first taste of a fresh leaf of fish wort really opened by eyes (and taste buds)! This is used in some of Chef Tu’s Vietnamese specialties. I love eating them separately and savoring the wonderful flavor.
Where he eats when he’s not at a popup
I usually eat near a show I am attending, so many are in the Hayes Valley area or near Union Square. Some favorites are: Dobb’s Ferry, Minas Brazilian, WhiteChapel, Boxing Room, Chez Maman, Max’s (Hayes Valley); Kuleto’s, Farallon, Liholiho Yacht Club, and Rambler (Union Square).
What he cooks
I used to cook a lot more but now with all of the Feastly meals and restaurant dinners, I rarely do any more. I can make a mean lasagna and love cooking lamb chops.
A notable fellow Feaster
One of the more interesting characters I met at a popup was Elbe Spurling – the creator of the Brick Bible series of books. These are picture books with all of the biblical images made using Legos. She described her books in such fun detail that I went out and bought them!