For the 25th Anniversary of Children’s HealthWatch, we are hosting a celebration featuring ten top female chefs in Boston, co-chaired by renowned chef Lydia Shire (Scampo). Each table at our event will be served by a different chef – learn more about them below!
Lydia Shire (Scampo at The Liberty Hotel)
History-making chef/owner and Brookline native Lydia Shire is a graduate of London’s Cordon Bleu Cooking School and a James Beard Award Winner. She has worked in some of Boston’s most prestigious kitchens, including Maison Robert, Harvest, Cafe Plaza, and Parker’s. When she was asked to open the Four Seasons Hotelin Beverly Hills, she became the first female Executive Chef in the Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts Company to open a luxury property. She opened her sixth culinary endeavor, Scampo, in Boston’s iconic Liberty Hotel in 2008. In her free time, she loves to travel and collect antique kitchen items with her husband.
Karen Akunowicz (Fox and the Knife, Bar Volpe)
New Jersey native Chef Karen Akunowicz attended the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts after years of bartending and managing restaurants in Boston. After working under chefs like Michael Schlow, she packed up her knives and moved to Modena, Italy – without a place to live and barely knowing Italian. She staged at a small osteria, made pasta with little old ladies, and finally became the Chef at L’Avion blu Enoteca. When she moved back to the US, she worked under Chef Ana Sortun before becoming the Executive Chef of Myers+Chang. She appeared on Top Chef and Beat Bobby Flay and co-wrote the hit cookbook Myers+Chang. After winning the James Beard Award in 2018, Akunowicz opened her own restaurant, Fox and the Knife. Two years later, she opened Bar Volpe. Akunowicz is a proud No Kid Hungry Chef and works with Share Our Strength to end childhood food insecurity.
Joanne Chang (Flour Bakeries, Myers+Chang)
Chef Joanne Chang was a management consultant with a Harvard degree in Applied Mathematics and Economics before transitioning to the culinary world. She worked in the renowned Biba, Bentonwood Bakery, and Rialto in the Boston area before moving to NYC to help open Payard Patisserie and Bistro. Upon returning to Boston, she became the Pastry Chef at Mistral before opening her first iconic Flour Bakery in the South End. In 2007, she opened the second Flour Bakery and Myers+Chang with her husband Christopher Myers, serving Asian- inspired small plates. They now operate 9 Flour Bakeries in Boston/Cambridge along with Myers+Chang. Chang has written 5 cookbooks: Flour; Flour, Too; Baking with Less Sugar; Myers+Chang at Home; Pastry Love and she teaches a Masterclass called Bake Like a Pro. Chang was a baking judge in the Netflix show Baking Impossible and she is the James Beard winner for Outstanding Baker for 2016. She serves on the board of directors for Share our Strength, a national organization committed to ending childhood hunger in America.
Tatiana Pairot Rosana (Lookout Bar at The Envoy Hotel, Para Maria)
A first-generation Cuban-American, Chef Tatiana Rosana grew up in Miami in a traditional Cuban family where food always took center stage. In 2009, she received her Bachelor’s Degree in English with a focus on Creative Writing. But ultimately it was her traditions that pushed Chef Rosana to pursue a career in the culinary industry, pushing her to attend Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. Today, she heads Para Maria (a Latin-inspired restaurant and ode to her grandmother), Lookout Rooftop and Bar as well as The Envoy Hotel’s in-room dining as the Executive Chef. Inspired by her wife’s Korean heritage, her own Cuban background, French training and New England experience, Chef Rosana is guided by her curiosity and openness to new cuisines. Since pursuing her culinary journey, she has competed on various nationally televised cooking competitions including Food Network’s Beat Bobby Flay, Chopped and Chopped Champions Tournament, and Guy’s Grocery Games – winning twice and earning the title of two-time Chopped Champion. When she’s not in the restaurant she is working on her book ideas and looks forward to the publication of her first book “Arlo and the Secret Ingredient.” In her spare time, she is a contributing freelance writer for Reviewed and USA Today and loves spending time with her wife, Alexis and their son – and inspiration for the books -, Arlo.
Ana Sortun (Oleana, Sofra, Sarma)
A Seattle native, Chef Ana Sortun graduated from La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine de Paris before moving to Massachusetts to open Moncef Meddeb’s Algo Bistro. After working at 8 Holyoke and Casablanca, Sortun opened her first solo restaurant, Oleana, in 2001. Oleana opened to rave reviews, and Sortun was praised by publications like the NYT for her traditional-yet-inventive style. In 2005, she won the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Northeast, and she published her bestselling cookbook, SPICE: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean, the following year. In 2008, she co-opened Sofra Bakery, an informal Middle Eastern cafe and store. She co-opened the traditional Turkish tavern Sarma in 2013. Chef Sortun is passionate about healthy cooking – she created a product called Chef Sets to be sold at Sofra. These Sets contain ingredients for delicious, healthy meals, including aromatic spices inspired by her restaraunts’ menus. All of the produce in Sortun’s restaurants is sourced from her husband’s farm in Sudbury River Valley.
Asia Mei (Moonshine 152)
Chef Asia Mei understands the importance of delicious, accessible food. After growing up in Silicon Valley, surrounded by countless cultures and cuisines, moving into the Boston College dorms where cheap, greasy ‘dorm food’ was the norm was a shock. After earning a degree in Economics and Biology, she skipped her graduation ceremony to search for a job in the culinary industry. Due to training in gymnastics and martial arts for much of her life, and having worked as a stuntwoman between semesters, Mei had a unique skill on the line. She got a job at Hamersley’s Bistro, and left as Sous Chef after four years. Here, Mei formed the basis of her culinary style: French techniques with New England ingredients. She honed these skills as executive sous chef at Sibling Rivalry. Later, Mei worked as the head chef at Whole Foods where she learned the value of healthy, bright ingredients. Soon after, Mei worked at Franklin Southie for a year before her 3.5 year stint at Sam’s on the Waterfront, where her cuisine drew rave reviews. Chef Mei replaced Franklin Southie with her first solo endeavor, Moonshine 152, which has become a neighborhood fixture.
Rachel Miller (Nightshade Noodle Bar)
Chef Rachel Miller gained her passion for cooking in Virginia, her home state, while working in a small restaraunt. It was there she learned the importance of terroir – the environmental factors that impact the food we eat. It was this restaurant, that sourced their ingredients locally, that sparked her interest in butchery, ultimately leading Miller to move to Boston to work at Lionetti’s as a beginner butcher. Later, she became the Executive Sous Chef at Bondir – and was named one of Zagat’s 30 Under 30: Boston’s Hottest Up and Comers as a result. After her stint at Bondir, Miller became the Chef de Cuisine at Clio, Ken Oringer’s iconic flagship restaurant. After 12 years of working in other people’s kitchens, Miller became a private chef and booked Nightshade Pop Up dinners while cementing her unique style of cooking. In October of 2019, she opened Nightshade Noodle Bar in downtown Lynn, MA. She opened Sin City Superette next door three years later. Miller lives in Lynn, MA, and can be found cooking at Nightshade Noodle Bar every night.
Mary Dumont (PlantPub)
Chef Mary Dumont started her illustrious career in the culinary industry in San Fransisco, where she worked as a server while pursuing a degree in creative writing. When a chef didn’t show up for their shift, Dumont stepped in and seamlessly filled the role, using the skills she picked up while growing up in a family of New Hampshire retauranteurs. After stepping into the kitchen of that CA restaurant, Dumont knew she was where she’s meant to be. In the 20 years since, she has traveled across the country, working in the best restaurants in the US. When she returned home to NH, she was named Food & Wine‘s Best New Chef – the first from her state to win the award. She owned a Zagat Most Anticipated Restaurant and a Boston Magazine Best New Restaurant, has been named Boston Eater’s Chef of the Year, and has won many other awards. She has also been on hit shows like Top Chef, Iron Chef America, and more. Today, Dumont co-owns PlantPub, a plant-based, locally-sourced pub in Cambridge. She lives with her wife, children, and dogs.
Jody Adams (Rialto, TRADE)
James Beard Award winner Jody Adams has a reputation for combining traditional Italian cuisine with New England ingredients. Her first restaurant, Rialto, was named one of the top 20 new restaurants in the country by Esquire magazine and has earned countless other accolades. She was featured in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, and competed on Top Chef Masters 2010. In 2011, Adams opened her second restaurant, TRADE, to rave reviews. She also collaborates with her husband on their blog, The Garum Factory, where her recipes are paired with his photography every week. Outside of cooking, Adams’ passion lies in cycling – she’s a frequent competitor in the 192-mile Pan Mass Challenge, and has raised over $250,000 for The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute on Team Rialto-TRADE. Chef Adams is committed to solving food insecurity, and serves on the boards of Partners In Health and Island Creek Oysters Foundation. She is a loyal supporter of Share Our Strength and and the Greater Boston Food Bank, and is a member of the Nutrition Round Table at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Tracy Chang (PAGU)
Tracy Chang is the chef/owner of PAGU restaurant in Cambridge, MA. She is a Boston College alum, with a B.S. in Finance. She holds certificates in pâtisserie from Le Cordon Bleu Paris. She trained with three star Michelin chef Martin Berasategui in San Sebastian, Spain, and worked on his television programming, RobinFood, in communications and public relations. She has been a teaching fellow and guest lecturer at the Harvard Science & Cooking Program, founded by Chef Ferran Adria. Prior to PAGU, she founded a pop-up restaurant, Guchi’s Midnight Ramen and hosted events with restaurants, startups, nonprofits, and universities. She is an alum of the James Beard Foundation Bootcamp for Policy & Change, James Beard Foundation Womens’ Entrepreneurship Leadership Program, a 2020 James Beard Best Chef Northeast semifinalist and 2023 James Beard Outstanding Restaurant nominee. She is also a 2020 Star Chefs Rising Stars Game Changer. Chang has presented at the CIA World of Flavor in Napa, Science and Cooking World Congress in Barcelona as well as to tech and pharmaceutical companies including Takeda, Google, Facebook and Microsoft. She has made appearances on Chronicle, Food Network, WBUR, and National Public Radio (NPR). During the COVID-19 pandemic, she co-founded two nonprofit initiatives, Off Their Plate (OTP) and Project Restore Us (PRU) to provide essential worker communities with food and groceries. OTP expanded to 12 cities nationwide, raised over $12 million, and restored over $5 million for essential hospitality workers. The standard operating procedures (SOPs) she created for her restaurant PAGU, as well as for Off Their Plate, have been compiled into a comprehensive guide by the James Beard Foundation, World Central Kitchen and the Aspen Institute. Project Restore Us employs restaurant essential workers to pack groceries for essential worker families in high COVID, low income neighborhoods of Boston. To date, PRU has delivered over 800,000+ lbs of food to 8000+ households and restored 8000+ shift hours. Chang’s work with both organizations has garnered her international recognition (the Basque Culinary Center named her the top 10 nominees of the Basque Culinary World Prize) and invitation to the 2022 White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health. Chang resides in the Boston area with her husband, two young children, and black pug, Pearl. Her favorite pastimes are cooking with her kids and for her 99 year old mentor, Marvin Gilmore.