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Best working chef in boston.

No star chefs who is the best you see on line with his team. Lets see what boston thinks.

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  1. I am sure that I am going to spell this wrong but I believe it is Jamie Bissonet @ Toro.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ChickenBrocandZiti

      Gabriel Bremer Salts Always there , totally self effacing and a master at his craft

    2. Best will never be agreed upon. However last Saturday (as always) Gordon Hammersley was leading the charge in his open kiitchen. In the dozens of times I have dined there over the years I can remember maybe 2 occasions when he wasn't there sporting his trademark Sox cap. His dedication is reflected in the consistency of Hammersely's food.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Gabatta

        I am going to have to go with Jaime. He is a man of incredible endurance and is always in the kitchen at Toro where they are consistently as busy as any restaurant in Boston. Tony Maws would have to get nod here as well, but with his constant postings looking for new line cooks and sous chefs, one has to wonder how great he is to work for on a day in day out basis. Dave Punch consistently gets rave reviews from his cooks who all seem impassioned to go to work every day. Just a few thoughts from another working chef in the city.

        1. re: iloveporkbelly

          Dave Punch gets my vote, with Barry Maiden just barely trailing.

      2. Can't be certain, but I think these chefs are there most every night, and I'm a fan of their food: Bissonnette, Bremer, Hamersley, Zamir Kociaj, David Punch (at one place or the other), Jason Bond, Anthony Susi, David Fitzgerald, Will Gilson, Jason Santos, Mark Romano, Scott Hebert, Dante de Magistris (at one place or the other).


        3 Replies
        1. re: MC Slim JB

          Would like to add William Kovel at Aujourd'hui and Zhang Wenxue at Fuloon.

          1. re: lipoff

            And, I would like to add Jay Murray, Grille 23.

          2. re: MC Slim JB

            NIce props for David Fitzgerald. I'll go with him.

          3. I'd say Krista Kranyak with her Ten Tables locations. I always see her working at both locations.

            1 Reply
            1. re: CreativeFoodie42

              Krista's FOH, though, right?

              My vote is for David Punch and Wil Gilson.

            2. If y'all could include the restaurant where these various folks work, would be really helpful.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Bob Dobalina

                Jamie Bissonnette -- Toro
                Gabriel Bremer -- Salts
                Gordon Hamersley -- Hamersley's Bistro
                Zamir Kociaj -- Trattoria Toscana
                David Punch -- the Ten Tableses
                Jason Bond -- Beacon Hill Bistro
                Anthony Susi -- Sage
                David Fitzgerald -- Ecco
                Wil Gilson -- Garden at the Cellar
                Jason Santos -- Gargoyles on the Square
                Mark Romano -- Highland Kitchen
                Scott Hebert -- Troquet
                Dante de Magistris -- Dante, Il Casale


                1. re: MC Slim JB

                  Thanks! Reminds me I need to get over to Eastie for Ecco again real soon.

              2. May I propose Andrea Benatti (of Benatti in Cambridge)? Only works with one other sous-chef in the kitchen (the night we were there) and actually came out from the kitchen to help take our coats. Watching him cook from the bar while we waited was neat-o.

                34 Replies
                1. re: Suze123

                  You may propose Ms. Benatti, but only if you want an actual woman to be on this list.

                  I am *shocked* at how white and how male this list turns out to be. Totally blown away. Just when you think that maybe we've made a little progress in this backwards little town...

                  1. re: jkv

                    Benatti is a man.

                    Do you have suggestions of female non-white chefs who are tops?

                    I hear great things about Susan Regis, but don't know how she is at running her crew.

                    1. re: yumyum

                      Yes, "Andrea" is a man in this case. But this does remind me of a good article I read in New York Magazine a while back about the gender inequalities in this particular line of work: http://nymag.com/restaurants/features...

                      1. re: yumyum

                        I didn't know, but it proves my point even further. It's not a slam on ye hounds, but more a comment on the city at large. It's not like this in New York or San Francisco--I know that we don't live in either of those places, but for a relatively evolved part of the world, it's pretty stunning that outside of, say, Jody Adams, Lydia Shire, Barbara Lynch etc. (who aren't necessarily "working chefs"), things are same as they ever was.

                        1. re: jkv

                          I'd say Jody Adams is a working chef...I've seen her plating her own stuff at taste of the Nation, and run into her coming out of the kitchen (messy) at Rialto...

                          1. re: jkv

                            I am going to take issue with this; as someone who has worked in the restaurant industry in San Francisco, New York and now Boston I can say that without a doubt Boston is known for being extremely friendly to female chefs. When you compare our top tier chefs to other cities, New York and San Fran as you mentioned, we are much more diverse. Look at the number of French, male chefs in New York. And as far as San Fran goes you'd be lucky to name 5 female chefs to put on the list. Boston is WAY ahead of the country in regards to female chefs.

                            1. re: cabriac

                              i have worked in many of boston's high-end restaurants over the last 17 years. the kitchens have NOT been female friendly, unless the exec chef has been female. in fact, many have been downright hostile and the guys took pride in making the girls wash out. even those female chefs (many of whom, like lydia and jody came from jasper white, and barbara came from todd) ran their kitchens in a "masculine style", so i saw lots of girls crying. some of those girls now have successful kitchens of their own, but many many more are no longer in the business. there are presently more female line cooks than in years past, mostly fresh out of culinary school, though, so we'll reconsider in 5 years.

                              i have a hard time defining a working chef as anybody with more than 2 restaurants. they then have to excel at delegating, and that's not always the case. it looks like that's where guys like schlow and marc orfaly have really gone off the rails.

                              while some of the chefs listed here are good and in-house more nights than not, i want all my dinners there to be at least good. hit or miss doesn't cut it, and that's where i find myself with somebody like jason santos or jason bond.

                              last i heard susan regis was at blue sky, again working for lydia, in oqunquit.

                              my top vote goes to gordon. he has one restaurant and he has been on that line, executing consistently excellent food for 20 years. i'll add scott hebert, jody adams, jamie bissonnette, gabriel bremer, tony mawes and tim cushman, from o ya.

                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                I believe that Susan Regis is working at Upstairs on the Square specifically in the Monday Club area. Resonably sure she is no longer at Blue sky.

                                1. re: emilief

                                  That was my recollection too emilief

                          2. re: yumyum

                            Ana Sortun comes to mind too. Oleana and Sofra, though the best stuff there in my opinion is the baked goods which I think someone else actually makes (but I could be wrong.) They have some patio outdoor seating now, which really helps the feel of the place.

                            1. re: Bob Dobalina

                              Yes, another baker works for Ana (she's a woman too, I'm thinking surname Kennedy but could be wrong). If we can include bakers, Joane Chang has to be on the list. But I think the OP was all about a chef working the line.

                              1. re: yumyum

                                joanne has meyers + chang, and i see her there frequently, expediting and even running food.

                                    1. re: StriperGuy


                                      I see her at Flour (particularly the Fort Point one) all the time, but I've never seen her at Meyers + Chang.

                                      1. re: rlove

                                        That's the one I see her at. I can't confirm her presence at Myers & Chang though...

                                        1. re: CreativeFoodie42

                                          I see her at Ft Point Flour ( I work in the hood) during the day and she is indeed frequently at M&C in the evening and has served us often Also see her on the cold station doing dan dan and salads

                                1. re: yumyum

                                  Maura Kilpatrick is the original Oleana pastry chef. She still works @ Oleana one day a week but has moved over to Sofra pretty much full time - you can catch Ana at Sofra too, I think on Mondays. The "other baker" you people refer to is ex - Upstairs on the Square PC Kate Henry.

                            2. re: jkv

                              I'm shocked that some one would make an issue of the race or gender of the top working chefs.

                              I'll go out on a short limb and say that the responders here are answering the question posed..without applying any social agenda..

                              BTW, 1 of the main chefs at Daily Catch is Asian..though not a "top chef." The Exec Chef at Via Matta was Latino..also not a top chef.

                              Lydia Shire, Jody Adams, Susan Regis, Michela Larsen have been top chef's and pioneers in the Boston restaurant scene; though some are not as hands on as they once were. They've moved up..or are no longer as hands on as they once were? Anna Sortum is on her game.

                              Sorry this "backwards little town" doesn't live up to your social agenda.

                              1 of the city's most successful restauranteurs is the female Barbara Lynch..no longer hands on but she got her first big job from Marissa Iaccoco and Rita her female partner at Galleria Italiano on Tremont.

                              1. re: 9lives

                                Barbara Lynch can still heat up the kitchen! I remember when she was making lasagna in the student run Home Ec. restaurant at Madison Park. She's still that same girl now. No airs about Barbara.

                                1. re: donnahobrien

                                  I'm not questioning Barbara Lynch's cooking skills or making a statement about her airs or lack of. I'm a fan of BL and having been eating at #9 since she opened..and Galleria Italiana before that

                                  While she is a succesful restauranteur, I don't consider her to be 1 of Boston's best working chefs; though she certainly was at 1 point. It's hard if not impossible to be a full time working chef when you own 5+ establishments.

                                  When i think og "best working chef" I think of people like..

                                  Scott Hebert ..Troquet
                                  Chris Chung..Uni
                                  Tony Maws...Craigie
                                  Gordon Hamersly
                                  Dante Magisteros
                                  Jamie Bissonette

                                  and many of the other names mentioned here.

                                  1. re: donnahobrien

                                    She spends essentially zero time in the kitchen now. When she does it is just for show.

                                    1. re: StriperGuy

                                      i think barbara lynch certainly qualifies as a celebrity chef.

                                  2. re: 9lives

                                    "1 of the city's most successful restauranteurs is the female Barbara Lynch..no longer hands on but she got her first big job from Marissa Iaccoco and Rita her female partner at Galleria Italiano on Tremont."

                                    Well, that one sentence says a lot about who will actually give a female chef in this city a chance...

                                    1. re: galleygirl

                                      actually barbara worked for todd english at michaela's, olives and figs and then at rocco's (now p.f. chang's, but was then owned by a husband and wife) long before she worked for the girls at galleria italiana.

                                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                                        I used to love Rocco's.

                                        There was a lot of overlap and a lot of great chefs worked together at 1 time or another. Lydia Shire, Jasper White. Chris Schlesinger, Steve Johnson, Andy Husbands and lots more.

                                        The current Improper gives some of the connections of who worked for/with whom.

                                        1. re: 9lives

                                          Thank you for reminding me! Steve Johnson. I see him almost every time I'm at Rendezvous.

                                  3. re: jkv

                                    It often baffles me when in any discussion someone says, "Why aren't more non-whites and/or non-males mentioned!" instead of simply saying, "How could you leave [so and so] off the list?"

                                    Argue for specific people, not vague notions of sex and race-- you seem to be arguing for skin tone and genitals instead of for actual, specific culinary talents.

                                    1. re: Tom Servo

                                      Fully agree.

                                      In the spirit of diversity, I'll mention Jose Duarte of Taranta..clearly not the high end, maybe the next tier down, but a hard working hands on chef who's talented and a very nice guy doing an unusual cuisine..Peuvian /Italian

                                      Filipino man Rene Michelena was probably a "best working chef" candidate but has never seemed to get real traction anyplace.

                                      Black man, Darryl Settles at Beehive has been a fixture on the Boston scene since owning Bob the Chef's. He's a great citizen and does much to help the community, but I don't think anyone would conside him as a "best working chef"

                                      All the Thai chefs who work at Montien are among the "best working chefs," though I don't know their names..:)

                                      1. re: 9lives

                                        Jose Duarte is a good call. He's always there (and wearing that heavy Peruvian sweater!) when I am.

                                        1. re: 9lives

                                          michelena got lots of press when he first came to town, including national magazine coverage. i tried him out at different spots and never got the hype. always just "meh." which might explain why he's just all over the place, instead of finding a home.

                                          is he still at market?

                                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                                            He was a F&W Best Nw Chef award winner in 1998. I had a good meal at La Bettola years ago, but never had his cooking at some of his other stops.

                                            Don't know if he'ss till at Mkt but I rememer them geting a horrendous review in of the local papers.

                                            1. re: 9lives

                                              i was at a private party on the market roof deck a few weeks back. 2 people in the downstairs bar, nobody on the patio on a gorgeous night.

                                              chef cooking our food was extremely cute, lol, but was not michelina.

                                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                Rene is in florida, he left boston right after the bad review in the globe.
                                                I think Maimi, but I might be wrong.

                                  4. Nice responses so far. I'd like to put in a good word for Michael Leviton at Lumiere (I know it's Newton). There is a quality and attention to detail that I relish in the meals that I've had there over the years. His grilled scallops with truffle oil is still a favorite and his soups are a real pleasure. Nothing is really creative but the execution has always been spot on.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. Another vote for Scott Hebert at Troquet...his food is consistently good. Always.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: bostongal

                                        I say Gordon Hamersley leads the charge. I agree with the vote for Jason Santos. I would like to add Gary Strack to that list as well.

                                      2. Who is chef at Sorrelina? He/she needs to be on this list if not already mentioned...

                                        7 Replies
                                        1. re: bostongal

                                          don't know if we're talking "fancy" or also "plain." On the "fancy" level, seems to me Craigie Street ,L'Espalier and Troquet consistently serve the best food, which would put them at the top of my list and they do it with good service. I'm also a fan (against the trend on the board) of Blue Ginger. Do the chefs of these places qualify as "top chefs?" Then there are the wonderful little places, like Shanghai Gate, but would we describe them as "top chefs with teams?" probably too small and idiosyncratic for that title.

                                          1. re: teezeetoo

                                            MIng Tsai of Blue Ginger is a star chef, which the OP rules out. Still, it raises the point again that JKV raises above, namely that of all the diverse cuisines we praise on this board, the top chef preferences expressed here are almost all cooking in American or European-based restaurants.

                                            1. re: newhound

                                              OK. Jonathan Taylor at Blue Ginger!

                                            2. re: teezeetoo

                                              I already mentioned Zhang Wenxue of Fuloon.

                                              I would also add Shinji Muraki of Toraya, Liu Lijun of Sichuan Gourmet, and Toru Oga of Oga's.

                                              Certainly Li Qun (formerly of Rice Garden and then New Taste of Asia) fell into this category when he worked around here. He was even known as "Chef Dragon"! =)

                                              Unless I am mistaken, I believe many of the chefs at some other Sichuan restaurants in the area trained under Chef Liu at Sichuan Gourmet. I think this is an example that it is maybe not so different in the "less fancy" category!

                                            3. re: bostongal

                                              Robert Jean every night...and Jamie Mammano at Mistral most every night. Speaks to the consistency in their restaurants.

                                                1. re: southie

                                                  No, to my knowledge he is at Sorrelina and Jamie is at Mistral.

                                            4. I thought the OP's point was: who's not only really good, but cooking and slaving away every effing night, someone his whole team loves because he's always there doing hard work, not just playing the hands-off overseer, the plating Nazi?

                                              I think that rules out celeb-chef types like Ming Tsai, who spends a lot of time doing PR gigs, hawking his branded crap at the hostess stand, and working the floor out of his chef's coat. Notice nobody mentioned Schlow; he's just not on the line any more.


                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                I don't share your opinion of Ming Tsai. As someone who often dines with a friend with severe food allergies, I'm impressed by the effort and knowledge he and his staff put into making sure she gets a fabulous meal.

                                                1. re: teezeetoo

                                                  ming's first son was born with severe allergies, which is why he got involved in that aspect of things. thankfully, the boy has grown out of nearly all of them. nobody is questioning ming's dedication to safety. i've also worked events where he has been a guest chef and his food was very good.

                                                  however the op is specifically asking about pros who are NOT on tv, not all over the country making appearances hawking merch and books, but who are on their line most every night. "working chefs".

                                                  1. re: teezeetoo

                                                    That dedication to diners with allergies is admirable, and I think Tsai is a really nice guy. But he's not at all the sort of chef that this thread is talking about. You can pretty much rule out anyone that you see on television on a regular basis.


                                                2. I have been to both Troquet and Craigie over a dozen times, in the last 18 months and every time the Chef is there, hands on. I use to be able to say that about Pigalle but as of late that is not the case, and it shows!

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: csammy

                                                    You are SO right...the last time I went to Pigalle it was not great. In fact, it was SO not great that I won't be back. And I agree, every time I go to Troquet, Scott is there. Every, single time. I think that makes all the difference in the world.

                                                  2. I used to love Rialto, having been there in years, how is it? still fabulous? I always trusted their cooking and was happy to experiment out of my comfort zone because they always "hit it". Still good?

                                                      1. Andres at Clio. Maura Kilpatrick of Sofra.

                                                        1. I'm suprised Tim Cushman from O Ya wasn't really included on this list. We went last night for the second time and thoroughly enjoyed our experience -- I really also feel that he's brought something new and different to town. He appears to be extremely active and involved on a daily basis and cares a great deal about what he delivers. We felt that a few of the dishes were too salty and he took the time to come and talk to us and genuinely cared what we had to say. He has my nomination!

                                                          6 Replies
                                                            1. re: gramercyfoodie

                                                              Yes, I concur! From my experience, I've not had a better meal :)

                                                              1. re: gramercyfoodie

                                                                I think O Ya is 1 of Boston's top restaurant and I know Tim and his wife are always there and "hands on" restauranteurs..and has clearly brought something wonderful, new and different to Boston

                                                                Is he really a "hands on" chef like some of the other names mentioned? He's not behind the sushi bar..maybe in the kitchen?

                                                                No disrespect intended towards O Ya, or it's owners, but I never thought of Tim Cushman as a working chef like some of the others mentioned.

                                                                1. re: 9lives

                                                                  I think he very much is. He's in the kitchen, and he's hardly a celebrity. There was that goofy controversy spawned by Boston Mag about his shadowy past and suspect menu development (I worked for Lettuce Entertain You and have never heard of him; I, too, see eerie similarities between my past menu items and his current ones), but at the end of the day the chef's chief duty is to ensure that you enjoy your meal. Who really cares about the rest? Being a good chef means being able to pull off whatever your vision is with whatever tools you may have, whatever staff you may have. It's way more complicated than simply working on the line every night.

                                                                  1. re: almansa

                                                                    "Being a good chef means being able to pull off whatever your vision is with whatever tools you may have, whatever staff you may have. It's way more complicated than simply working on the line every night."

                                                                    I'm very familiar with Lettuce Entertain You.

                                                                    "Best working chef' seem"s to have more than 1 definition on this thread, You state that it means pulling off your vision. I was thinking more along the line of someone who actually does the cookng.

                                                                    1. re: 9lives

                                                                      With a little more thought, I agree with you re Tim Cushman.

                                                                      By coincidence, I was in the office at the small hotel where Ms 9 works and a couple came in asking for a restaurant reco and O Ya was at the top of my list for them..:)

                                                              2. gotta bring up Josh Ziskin at La Morra. Always in the kitchen and consistant


                                                                1. Scott Hebert at Troquet.

                                                                  1. I agree with these folks: Jamie Bissonnette -- Toro, Gabriel Bremer -- Salts, Dante de Magistris -- Dante, Il Casale

                                                                    But think that these people have to be included in the top: Tim Wiechmann-T.W. Food, Tony Maws-Craigie on Main; Barry Maiden-Hungry Mother; Chef Kung-Oishii Two in Sudbury

                                                                    And, while the OP didn't mean this, I still have to send a nod to Rachel Klein-Aura; Ana Sortun-Oleana; Jody Adams-Rialto and Barbara Lynch. While they may have made decisions that mean they are not "on the line" as frequently as others, they are still an integral part of what shapes their restaurants.


                                                                    1. Agree with many of the above, esp. Bissonnette, Maws, Punch, Cushman, Hamersley, but would add Frank McClelland -- usually in the kitchen at L'Espalier. I know he has the Sel de la Terres but he seems to delegate their operation if my perception is correct.

                                                                      1. Jason Santos at Gargoyles on the Square.