FOOD: Chatting with Mad Fox Brewing Company’s Russel Cunningham

July 8, 2011 by Kathleen Nixon · 10 Comments 


BY Kathleen Nixon

Falls Church Times Staff

July 8, 2011


Another local favorite – Mad Fox Brewing Company – will be joining us this Saturday, July 9th for the next Falls Church Farmers Market Chef.  While dining at Mad Fox many of the partons may not know of the local food connections Mad Fox has with local farmers while enjoying the hops, to this diner I was able to see the writing on the menu which explained these connections. It is with this intent, we asked Mad Fox to join us in the Falls Church Market Chef series.

In amidst his extremely busy schedule, Russel Cunningham was able to share with us some of his thoughts.

Tell our readers a little about your background?

I graduated from culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu in Austin, TX and have been a chef for the last 19 years. Nationally I have worked in restaurants, country clubs and convention centers in Austin and Houston, TX; Ocean City, MD and Miami Beach, FL. I moved to the Washington, DC area over 6 years ago and have worked for the DC Convention Center, Jury’s Hotel including Dupont Grille and Biddy Mulligans, Farmer’s and Fisher’s restaurant on the Georgetown waterfront and this past year helped open Mad Fox Brewing Company in Falls Church where I am currently the executive chef.

Tell us a little about your restaurant, your staff and how you incorporate local producers into your restaurant purchasing?

The restaurant is a 300 seat restaurant that serves upscale casual food and beer that is brewed on site in our brewery. We focus on local, sustainable sources for our ingredients including meats, produce and dairy products. We also have a local farmer that picks up our spent grains from the brewing process along with trimmings from the kitchen to take back as feed for his cows and hogs.


You work with many of the local producers? Who do you work with?

We work with quite a few local producers either directly or indirectly through larger distributors. Some of the items we bring in include beef from The Organic Butcher of Mclean, tomatoes from Hummingbird Farms, tofu from JC Beansprouts, honey from Bees and Blossoms,  cheeses from Firefly Farms and eggs from Lehman’s Eggs to name a few.  We also visit the Falls Church Farmers Market on Saturdays to pick up items for specials for the weekend.

As a customer, what changes have you seen in the local food landscape?

There is a lot more available now to customers than in the past and I think the general public sees the benefits of being able to buy locally and actually know where their food is coming from.

When did you start using local ingredients in creating your menu and recipes?

I started really focusing on local as well as sustainable products about 5 years ago while I was at Jury’s Hotel and then moving on to Farmers and Fishers which is actually owned by the North Dakota Farmers Union.

What ingredients has been the most challenging to work with?

Finding a local sausage producer that actually uses local meats to make their product and deals with wholesale has been our biggest challenge. To solve the issue we have started buying the local meat ourselves and producing our sausage in house.

What will you be making this Saturday?

There are many different ways to make gazpacho and with our oppressively hot summers it is good to have a variety. The version we make is a puree of tomatoes and cucumbers with a red pepper coulis.

Come and visit with Russel and his team this Saturday at the Falls Church Farmers Market Chef demonstration from 9am to 11am.

Also remember that the American Farmland Trust “Best Farmers Market in the Country” contest is now in full swing and we need everyone’s vote to make sure we win – again!


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