We recently sat down with Charlie Palmer Steak DC’s Executive Chef Jeffrey Russell to discuss the process of how the restaurant acquires, preps and cooks its famous steaks. From farm to chef to table, this entire process is unique to the Charlie Palmer brand.
The Washington DC steakhouse sources its meat exclusively from local purveyors AM Briggs and Huntsman Specialty Game & More. These suppliers provide Charlie Palmer Steak with “more local, grass-fed options,” according to Russell.
Jeffrey Russell, executive chef at Charlie Palmer Steak DC, preparing a dish
Once the meat arrives at the restaurant, the staff divides what’s pre-cut and what needs to be cut. Charlie Palmer Steak DC employs an in-house butcher full-time who is in charge of preparing filet mignons, hanger steaks, culotte steaks and tri-tip steaks.
The meat that arrives bone-in — such as the cowboy ribeye, bone-in New York strip and the porterhouse — each come pre-cut and pre-portioned. All of these get the same steak salt mix.
“(The steak salt mix) is a blend that we’ve been using here for twelve years, since we opened,” Russell said. “It’s coarse grey sea salt, black pepper, granulated onion, granulated garlic, a little paprika and a little cayenne pepper.”
Some of the steaks also get some special preparation: The hanger steak is marinated in a blend of maraschino cherry juice, balsamic vinegar, a little dijon mustard and herbs. The culotte steak has a peppercorn crust.
Russell applying the signature Charlie Palmer Steak DC steak salt
The steak enters the heat.
With so much deliciousness to comprehend, we got to wondering how the Charlie Palmer Group comes up with menus for the Charlie Palmer Steak locations in DC, New York and Las Vegas. Speaking of himself and the other locations’ executive chefs, Russell shared the restaurant’s strategy.
“We change the menu seasonally, which is about five times a year, and we do it as a whole,” Russell said. “All the Charlie Palmer Steaks change at once. All the chefs will get together and create a big think-tank to bounce ideas off each other. If there’s a specific ingredient that we like that’s going to be in season, we throw it up on the board and figure out what’s going to work best, what’s going to taste best.”
This collective braintrust of Charlie Palmer chefs speaks to the uniform high quality that separates this franchise from other chains.
“It’s different than a Ruth Chris or a McCormick and Schmicks where they have a corporate chef in a corporate kitchen in one city,” Russell said. “We can’t just have one guy who writes the menus for all the other chefs.”
‘Slow Braised Jamison Farms Lamb Shank over Saffron Risotto’ from the minds of the Charlie Palmer braintrust.
In addition to their creative collaborations, each of the Charlie Palmer Executive Chefs also share the same origins at Palmer’s Flagship restaurant Aureole in New York City. Russell told us of his experience as a young chef.
“I started at the very bottom rung, garde manger, which is basically the salad station,” Russell said. “I was making amuse bouche, which is the first bite presented to diners when they sit down, it’s an introduction to the meal … We all started off in the same position. It’s kind of a right of passage.”
The Ribeye at Charlie Palmer Steak DC.
Bringing it back to the beef — from the sides it’s cooked with to the spice it’s covered in, every aspect of a steak’s preparation is masterminded by the same creative team of expert Executive Chefs. So, when you sit down at this stellar Washington DC steakhouse, you can be sure that your steak underwent a thoughtful and creative journey from farm to chef to table.