Russell lived in Springfield, Ohio, until she was 14, at which point her family moved to Columbus for her high school years, her interest in food started at a young age. The dishes of her youth were a mix of soul food and midwestern staples. A young Russell was bitten by the hospitality bug and got her first taste of cooking for others.
In high school, Russell participated in a career academy that first introduced her to the idea of woking in a restaurant as a career. From there she moved to Chicago after high school to attend the cooking and hospitality institute of Chicago (A le cordon bleu school that closed in 2017). Russell has cooked in various places, she agreed to be the chef de cuisine at Rumiko and Kikko which led her in the direction of becoming the first black woman to receive a michelin star. Her work ethic shines through in both her food and leadership.