Flour Bakery + Café’s Joanne Chang was among the winners revealed Monday, May 2 at the 2016 James Beard Foundation Awards at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. During a ceremony hosted by TV personality, chef and restaurateur Carla Hall, awards in the Restaurant and Chef and Outstanding Restaurant Design categories were presented, as well as a number of special achievement awards, including the Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America, Lifetime Achievement, Design Icon, America’s Classics, and Humanitarian of the Year.
As the co-owner of Flour and Myers+Chang in Boston, Chang says her main responsibilities are to help their team in their jobs in making Flour/M+C strong and to anticipate the future and prepare for growth. “In other words, I focus on ensuring that we are making awesome food, offering warm welcoming service, running a healthy business and making Flour/M+C a great place for both staff and guests.”
“I would like to think that one of my greatest skills is determining what flavors and tastes people will crave at Flour. I'm constantly tasting and testing and making sure that everything we make is something that you want to eat again and again. I also think of myself as a strong and thorough teacher, whether in pastry or management. My pastry chefs and cooks come to Flour to learn, and I'm dedicated to ensuring that they learn the best way to make a cake, shape a croissant, roll out a tart shell, give feedback, run a tight kitchen, or lead with confidence and conviction.”
Chang moved to New York City in 1997 to work in the cake department of the critically acclaimed Payard Patisserie and Bistro where she helped Francois Payard open the original Payard Patisserie on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Returning to Boston a year later with dreams of opening up her own pastry shop, she brought her French and American training to Mistral where she was the pastry chef until summer 2000.
In 2000, she opened Flour, a bakery and café, in Boston's South End. Flour features breakfast pastries, breads, cakes, cookies, and tarts as well as sandwiches, soups, and salads. In 2007 she opened a second branch of Flour in the Fort Point Channel area, in 2010 a third branch in Cambridge near MIT and Central Square, and in 2013 a fourth branch in the Back Bay.
She also opened a Chinese restaurant called Myers + Chang with her husband Christopher Myers in the South End neighborhood in the fall of 2007. An avid runner, she competed in every Boston Marathon from 1991 to 2006. She is the author two cookbooks: Flour, Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery+Cafe and Flour Too, Indispensible Recipes for the Cafe's Most Loved Sweets and Savories.
Her energetic commitment to excellence extends beyond the kitchen. She writes pastry articles and reviews cookbooks for Fine Cooking magazine. She teaches classes and advises pastry cooks both within the bakery and at area cooking schools. “I would like to find a bit more balance in my life. I love work and I know I need to balance it out with vacations and downtime. Spending time with my husband is above all my most favorite thing to do ever, so this should be a very attainable goal!”
Other Outstanding Baker finalists were Mark Furstenberg of Bread Furst in Washington, D.C., Zachary Golper of Bien Cuit in Brooklyn, Belinda Leong and Michel Suas of B. Patisserie in San Francisco, and William Werner of Craftsman and Wolves in San Francisco.
The following are several of the key awards handed out in this year’s James Beard Foundation awards:
Joanne Chang, Flour Bakery + Café, Boston
Outstanding Pastry Chef
Dahlia Narvaez, Osteria Mozza, Los Angeles
Suzanne Goin, Lucques, Los Angeles
Best New Restaurant
Shaya, New Orleans
The 2016 James Beard Foundation Book Awards
Baking and Dessert
Sourdough: Recipes for Rustic Fermented Breads, Sweets, Savories, and More
Founded in 1986, the James Beard Foundation celebrates, nurtures, and honors America's diverse culinary heritage through programs that educate and inspire. A cookbook author and teacher with an encyclopedic knowledge about food, the late James Beard was a champion of American cuisine. He helped educate and mentor generations of professional chefs and food enthusiasts, instilling in them the value of wholesome, healthful, and delicious food.
Today JBF continues in the same spirit by administering a number of diverse programs that include educational initiatives, food industry awards, scholarships for culinary students, publications, chef advocacy training, and thought leader convening.