Alexander John “AJ” Russo

Sous Chef, The Cache

Getting his culinary start at an early age might help explain AJ’s ability to stay calm, cool and collected when things get hot on the line. “My grandpa and grandma started teaching me to make fresh pasta when I was five,” AJ said,  “My grandpa would import San Marzano tomatoes from Italy for fresh red sauce, and we’d make lasagna and ravioli. I’ve been cooking ever since.”

Born and raised in Colorado Springs, AJ made the move to Fort Collins in is early 20’s and aside from a short time in Indiana, he’s been honing his skills in area kitchens ever since.

“During the pandemic, I was hired at the Stanley Hotel when the head chef was Robyn Almadovar, the two-time black jacket winner from Hell’s Kitchen (cooking show). I learned more there in eight months than any of my previous training,” AJ said. “She gave me the knowledge and skills to be able to move forward in this industry and progress my ability to become a chef.“

He followed this with a stint at Boulder’s Hotel St Julien, then helped Bird & Jim open their Bird’s Nest Café back in Estes. “It was great, but when I saw the chance to come to The Cache and work 10 minutes from home, I jumped at the chance. 100 percent.”

“Working here is great, it’s a lot of fun, there’s always something new going on in this building,” AJ said. “Here in The Cache, we have solid people and we’re building a great core team that can get us through any storm.”

His menu favorite right now is his Truffle Fettucine. “It’s simple and clean with rich flavor and it’ll fill you up,” AJ said. “I think’ less is more’ is always better. The more masterfully you can execute a simple dish takes more skill than making a dish with 30 components or 15 garnishes.”

When not working, AJ likes to cook, game and hang out with his pack of rescue dogs. “There are three Puggles who are brothers and four Australian Shepherd/Beagle mixes who are all sisters – they’re tiny little missiles that will shoot across the room.”

His favorite pie? G&B S’mores Pie. “It’s one of my favorite things to ever exist, it’s so good.”