Stories / Interviews, Awards

Q & A with Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery

Elena North-Kelly

Elena North-Kelly

April 30, 2012


The James Beard Foundation interviews paste chef and JBF Award nominee Joanne Chang

At her three Flour Bakery locations, Joanne Chang gives Boston-area dwellers their sugar fix with her menu of wholesome, like-you're-a-kid-again cookies, tarts, cakes, and other baked goods. Chang took a break from her packed schedule to answer our questions about her favorite pastry, where she likes to eat in Beantown, and the childhood treat she misses most. 

JBF: What’s your favorite item on the menu at Flour right now?

JC: We just introduced our kouign-amann, which is my favorite pastry ever.

JBF: Your sticky buns famously won in an episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay. Any other baked goods in your arsenal that you would confidently take into battle?

JC: Many things: our banana bread, our midnight chocolate cake, our carrot cake, pop tarts, blueberry muffins, and lemon–ginger scones!

JBF We read that your traditional Chinese upbringing didn’t allow you to indulge your sweet tooth. Does that have something to do with the nostalgic treats, like the homemade pop-tarts, that are sold at Flour?

JC: Exactly. Once I learned that I could make these treats, which I'd never had a chance to indulge in, I made it my mission to create the best versions I could at Flour. 

JBF: What’s your go-to recipe when you’re baking at home?

JC: I never bake at home anymore—hardly ever! I do make waffles and pancakes from time to time. 

JBF: Where's your current favorite place to dine in Boston? And what’s your favorite dish there?

JC: Can I say Myers + Chang? (Chang runs Myers + Chang with her husband, Christopher.) I adore the tamarind-glazed cod with Vietnamese mint, jicama, and grapefruit slaw. Otherwise, I love Picco, which has the best margarita pizza. 

JBF: What are your favorite cookbooks and why?

JC: Tartine, Baking with Julia, The Last Course, The Sweet Life, and Amy's Bread. These books all inspire me every time I leaf through them. We usually end up adding a new pastry to the menu whenever I have a minute to look at them.

JBF: What’s your earliest food memory?

JC: My grandmother peeling the skin off of grapes for me when I was about 3.

JBF: What’s your favorite regional American food?

JC: I'm from Texas and I miss Blue Bell Ice Cream like crazy. They have the best vanilla ice cream.

About the author: Elena North-Kelly is associate editor at the James Beard Foundation. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.