Former Heartland Restaurant & Wine Bar chef/owner Lenny Russo has found a new St. Paul home.
Russo, a longtime veteran in the industry who has been nominated for six James Beard awards, will take over the kitchen at The Commodore Bar & Restaurant beginning Sept. 12.
In a release, Russo said he planned to upgrade the menu to highlight seasonal cuisine, a culinary identity he's long been associated with locally.
"We'll take advantage of the seasons as much as we can to add interest to the menu," he said. "People here eat much differently in the winter, say, than in the summer, and we want to honor the seasonality factor."
He added that he's looking forward to the opportunity to "stretch out a bit."
"It's a fresh start, in a way," he said. "And I'm really looking forward to breaking some new culinary ground at the Commodore."
Russo closed Heartland, a celebrated Lowertown restaurant that was a pioneer in the farm-to-table movement locally, on Dec. 31 of last year after a 14-year run. Previously, he served as the executive chef at W.A. Frost from 1998 to 2002. At the Commodore – a 1920s art-deco-themed antique – he replaces chef Chris Gerster, who is leaving to pursue an unannounced position elsewhere.
Russo's wife and longtime business partner, Mega Hoehn, will also join the Commodore as the new bar manager.