Mike Russo's Biography

It was apparent from a very young age that Mike had a love for food.
His interest in helping Mom out in the kitchen was pretty normal, but it was the degree he helped out that was unusual. It wasn't just playing with Mom, but playing with the food was like learning to use a chemistry set.

As a child, Mike was always hustling, delivering papers, collecting bottles for the deposit, doing yard work, and delivering groceries door to door. He would go to people's houses and get their grocery lists and take his wagon down to the grocery store to do the shopping. Several of Mike's "customers" would ask him about his opinion when it came to meals and to their surprise, Mike could offer sound advice at a very young age. Some of his clients would even let him help prepare and cook their meals.

Mike's Dad used to take him to a friend's restaurant on a regular basis, and rather than hanging around out front and talking to the gang with Dad, he always wanted to go in the back and "help out" in the kitchen. "It was fortunate that the restaurant was a family-owned place, and our families were close. They really spent time with me and let me 'play'. That's where I got my first introduction to all aspects of the business," says Mike. "When I was old enough, they hired me as a dishwasher; it wasn't long before I found out that my earlier 'training' may have been part of the plan. In a family-owned and operated restaurant, you can find yourself doing just about anything on any given day. It's not like you are a Line Cook and that's all you ever do. Besides, the business not only consisted of a family restaurant, but a diner, bar, catering business and they also had coffee trucks that delivered to construction sites and businesses throughout the area ... and before it was done, I did it all!"

Mike's love for food and its effect on people led him to work in most aspects of the business in his younger years. He worked at several food-related enterprises, owning and/or managing some. He worked all aspects of the kitchen, was a short-order cook, waiter, caterer, bartender, stocked and ran coffee trucks, had a food vending business that consisted of trucks that catered to fairs, festivals and special events, owned a take-out business ... and the list goes on.

As life took its turns, Mike got out of the business many years ago to raise his children as a single dad and work in a totally unrelated field. "Once food is in your blood, it's there forever. The business is so demanding that I have always resisted getting back into it in favor of cooking for family, friends and events of my choosing, you know, things that are fun instead of work," Mike said. "I really like putting together charity events, and find myself as an auction item regularly. I go to people's homes and cook for them ... it's a blast and always for a good cause. It was kind of a natural progression, if that is possible, to my 'Cooking for Kids' show."

Mike lives in Saratoga Springs, NY, and together with some friends, has established and hosts the annual "Hospitality Industry Gala," a recognition party held to honor people from all over in the hospitality industry. The Gala, which benefits charity, is a reminder of Mike's respect of those in the industry and his belief in the power of food. This belief is at the core of "Cooking for Kids." As Mike puts it, "the power of food is amazing. If people would only realize that it was something that we had to do every day and took the time to make the best of it, we would all be better off. Whether you're eating in or eating out, whether you are with friends, family or by yourself, you can always have fun with food. You can always bring people together with food and make it entertaining, and it's even more powerful when it is for a good cause, like what we do with the "Cooking for Kids" show."

If you doubt Mike when he preaches the power of food, he will tell you:
"check out one of my "Cooking for Kids" shows; the proof will be in the pudding!"



Cooking For Kids
25 Palmer Heights • Saratoga Springs, NY 12866 • Ph: 518.584.9407