The Establishment's Executive Chef Elliott Howells welcomed Michelin Star Chef and long-time friend Mariya Russell and her husband, Garrett Russell, to prepare a six-course meal for a small audience to raise money for the Carolina Youth Development Center this week. The event was the first of four dinners that will be hosted by The Establishment to raise funds for local charities in a series they call simply "Give Back Charleston."
The team at The Establishment donated everything from the food and wine to their time on a night the restaurant is normally closed to raise $10,000 for the CYDC, a charity selected jointly by Elliott and Mariya for its impact on the Lowcountry.
"We've known and have been cooking with Chef Howells for a long time," said Mariya. "He brought this event to us and we felt everything about it lined up with the types of things Garrett and I want to be a part of. And we got to create one of the most playful event menus we've ever done. It's an incredible collaboration that really showcases each of our individualities."
The menu featured dishes such as local shrimp prepared with lardo, ramps, and charred romano beans in a jerk vinaigrette, a pork confit raviolo with peas in a smoked hock and clam broth, and a family style grouper course, poached in beef fat served with chimichurri, radish, and bone marrow-black garlic naan. As Chef Howells described it, "we wanted to create something memorable for the guests who would in turn go out and share the experience and the cause with others so that we could create something that would help this city that has given me so much over the years."
"Every dish was exciting," said Chef Russell. "I'm in this new place in myself where I'm open to my own creativity more than I've ever been, and excited to share that with whoever is interested. Because of Elliott's talent we knew that there were no limits to what we could possibly create together. And what we created was a perfect blend of all of us for such an incredible organization."
Part of that "sharing" involves the exploration of a new "entrepreneurial path" in the food and beverage industry. Mariya and Garrett have been taking "a mental break" for the past two years, living and working in Hawaii and are beginning to build ideas for a new restaurant concept in a new location. "We've always loved cooking for people and right now we are just figuring out in what capacity we can contribute to the narrative behind food and restaurants. Garrett and I are working towards having our own space where we're able to promote our own food philosophy."
Garrett has taken a position butchering to further his knowledge of using all parts of an animal with the intention of using cuts that are traditionally underutilized. "We want to live a more sustainable lifestyle — this is just a part of it," says Garrett.
If the experience that they created in Charleston this week was anywhere close to their end goal of "trying to create great experiences for like-minded people," the restaurant world should be prepared to be continually and progressively wowed by the Russells.
Want to follow Mariya and Garrett as they grow personally and professionally? Follow Mariya on Instagram.
To donate to the Carolina Youth Development Center, visit the CYDC website.