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Q&A with JBF Award Winner Tony Maws

Maggie Borden

July 15, 2015

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Say the phrase “Boston fine dining,” and it’s hard not to think of Craigie on Main, JBF Award winner Tony Maw’s venerable slow-food mecca that has delighted tourists and Beantown locals for over a decade. Maws has expanded his local footprint with the more casual Kirkland Tap & Trotter, which applies his terroir-focused approach to the local gastropub. In anticipation of his appearance at our upcoming Chefs & Champagne®, we chatted with Maws about memories of family fishing, modern diners’ palates, and his personal gusto for grilling.

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JBF: What is the inspiration behind your dish for Chefs & Champagne?

TM: No grand epiphanies, really. I was just thinking that grilling out on a beautiful day on Long Island sounds fantastic, and some boar sausage would be killer!

JBF: What about C&C are you most looking forward to?

TM: We're always thrilled to participate in Beard events—and the setting doesn't look so bad, either.

JBF: Your restaurants combine locally-sourced New England ingredients with international flavor profiles, from classical French pâtés to nuoc cham and kimchi. Do you feel you draw more inspiration from home or abroad? 

TM: I'm a product of everything I've ever eaten and all the places I've ever been—we all are. Now we have access to so many great ingredients, and have learned how to incorporate them into our cooking without being gimmicky.

JBF:  Do you think that diners are more willing to be adventurous if a dish is grounded in familiar terms (a steak, chicken), but includes unusual accompaniments?

TM: I'm sure for some diners it's a good gateway, but mostly diners have just learned to trust us to make something delicious. 

JBF:  What’s your go-to dish for summer cookouts?

TM: Anything I can fit on my grill is always a part of our meal. My family and I also love raw vegetable salads. I just made a shaved cauliflower, Persian cucumber, and radish salad with capers and herbs.

JBF: What was your favorite thing to eat as a kid during the summer?

TM: Going fishing with my dad, uncle, and brother, and eating whatever we caught.  Those are my favorite summertime food memories. 

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The James Beard Foundation's Chefs & Champagne will take place Saturday, July 25, at Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack, New York. Learn more about the James Beard Foundation's Chefs & Champagne.