Joanne Chang is no longer just a James Beard Award-nominated pastry chef. The owner of Flour Bakery & Café and Myers + Chang is this year’s Outstanding Baker.
— Beard Foundation (@beardfoundation) May 2, 2016
The pastry chef started her career in Boston in the early 1990s, and opened the first Flour in the South End in 2000. In 2007, she expanded Flour to Fort Point, and also opened Myers + Chang with Christopher Myers, the man who would become her husband. There are also Flour bakeries in Central Square and Back Bay now, and Chang is scouting locations for a fifth. She also plans a second act with Myers and Karen Akunowicz, executive chef at Myers + Chang, in Cambridge (and recent Top Chef competitor).
She has been nominated for Outstanding Pastry Chef, Baker, and Best Chef: Northeast in previous years.
Chang is at the gala ceremony in Chicago tonight with Akunowicz, who was up for Best Chef: Northeast. For the second year in a row, Akunowicz was a finalist, but 2016 isn’t her year. It’s not Shepard owner Susan Regis’ turn, either. The award went to Zakary Pelaccio of Fish & Game in Hudson, N.Y.
Boston had a baker in the running for another category tonight, too, but Oleana’s Maura Kilpatrick didn’t take home the medal for Outstanding Pastry Chef. That award went to Dahlia Narvaez, of Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles.
Rob Tod, the founder of Allagash Brewing Company in Portland, Maine, was up for Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional, but that award went to Ron Cooper of Del Maguey Mezcal.
Last week, the James Beard Foundation hosted its annual Book, Broadcast, and Journalism Awards, hosted by Boston chef Ming Tsai. New England cuisine is represented in the award-winning cookbooks: The Beetlebung Farm Cookbook (Little, Brown and Company), by Martha’s Vineyard chef Chris Fischer with Catherine Young, took home the honor for Best American Cookbook this year.
In her acceptance speech, Chang said she was honored to be nominated. “I love baking, and eating baked goods, and it’s an incredible profession to be in,” she said. She thanked her staff, her supportive husband, best friend, and business partner Myers; and she congratulated Akunowicz.
Chang said she looked forward to telling her parents about this year’s gala.
“Every year that I’ve been nominated they think I’ve won, so I can finally tell them I’ve actually won,” she said.
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