{You Pick Six} An Interview with Food Entrepreneur & Author: Joanne Chang

Photo Credit: Colin Clark

Can I just say it? Joanne Chang is an icon.

Back in 2000, she brought Boston the first Flour Bakery + Cafe and our lives are all better for it. Lucky for us, she raised Boston’s food game to another level. I was in the elevator going to work a few months ago. There were three guys standing behind me and they couldn’t stop raving about Flour.

I remember visiting the first location on Washington Street and being so excited! Oh the sweetness!

For all the tourists in town for the Boston Marathon on Monday, you’re doing yourself and those that love you a serious disservice if you don’t visit Flour at least once. So visit and eat! Especially if you’re one of the runners, because you can handle the calories!

There are seven locations around the city, so you should be able to find one fairly close to you. I’ve visited three locations, so I still have some to try. The apple snacking spice cake is one of my favorite things!

By the way, Joanne is an avid runner and ran the Boston Marathon every year between 1991 and 2006. She also co-founded the restaurant Myers + Chang with her husband, Christopher Myers. The food there is divine as well.

A prolific cookbook author and James Beard award winner for Outstanding Baker — Joanne’s accomplishments are many. Flour’s tagline “make life sweeter … eat dessert first!” is pure joy and one of my goals when I was a kid. That’s the feeling you’ll get when you’re eating one of her desserts.

And on that sweet note, let’s learn a little bit more about Joanne and resume this ongoing series with the 19th interview of You Pick Six.

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What is a favorite snack?
The ends of the banana bread that get trimmed off before we serve them to guests. The staff save me these in a little container and I go from location to location checking in and snacking on these treats. I probably eat about a loaf’s worth of trimmings each day.

What brings you peace every day?
Coming home and spending time with Christopher. I’m incredibly lucky to have someone who inspires me, makes me laugh, believes in me, guides me, and reminds me of what is important – US – every day.

Photo: Flour’s delicious banana bread!

What is some of the best advice you’ve ever received?
From my parents who taught me that as long as you’ve tried your best you have nothing to regret. I used to berate myself as a kid for getting a bad grade and Mom and Dad would just ask me, Did you try your best? And I would say, Yes. And they would say, Then we are proud of you. As long as you try your best you have nothing to be ashamed of. I live by that!

What is a favorite quote?
“Be kind, for everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”

What are some things that you can’t leave the house without?
I can’t leave the house without snacks- raisins in my pocket or a few pieces of toast or some almonds or an apple. I live in fear of being trapped somewhere with nothing to eat so I make sure I have food on me at all times.

Tell me about what you’re working on now.
I am knee deep in writing my next cookbook Pastry Love! It’s a compilation of all of my favorite recipes new and old. I’m baking up a storm every day and it’s been a blast. I’m in the candy chapter now- making english toffee and caramels and eating way too much sweets and loving every second of it. 🙂

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Thank you so much for participating Joanne!

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Photos: Provided by Joanne Chang.

Recently on Craving Boston: Power Café

*Updated 2/15/2020: Unfortunately Power Café has closed.*

Power Cafe

In case you haven’t seen it yet, I hope you’ll take a look at my most recent article on Craving Boston, where I interview Galit Schwartz. She opened Power Café, a new bakery in Watertown founded on good food and inclusion of those with developmental disabilities. Two things that are very important to me.

You may recall my fundraising for All Aboard The Arc! and my affiliation with the Brockton Area Arc, whose mission is “to work in partnership with, and for, the community to provide advocacy, information, and direct services for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and their families.”

Speaking with Schwartz and learning how she became involved with the disability community and creating a cafe was so inspiring. I hope you’ll be inspired too!

Screenshot: Craving Boston

Tatte Bakery and Cafe: A Favorite Place

Tatte bakery signFive years ago, I blogged about finding one of the best bakeries in the world.

Since then, Tzurit Or, the founder and owner of Tatte has expanded to five locations, including the newest space on Charles Street on Beacon Hill.

Tatte Bakery nutboxes

Being at Tatte Bakery is like stepping into a little piece of heaven. If heaven has a bakery. Everything is pleasing to the eye and the palate.

I had never seen anything like a nut box before. Aren’t they beautiful?

That high level of detail and perfection flows through each location and even the Instagram feed. While baked goods and desserts are the specialty, you can also buy food to eat in or take out. Tatte Bakery also caters. I’d like that for an event!

Tatte Bakery rows of nutboxesI told two co-workers about Tatte Bakery and we visited one day after work. Sitting outside in the warm summer air and enjoying the beauty of Beacon Hill is a perfect way to wind down.

Beacon Hill There are so many choices of what to eat, but I decided on a cherry clafoutis. It was so good, I gasped out loud. Not exaggerating here.

cherry clafoutis at Tatte BakeryI’d like to try and make a cherry clafoutis at home. I’ve been buying a lot of cherries recently and now have a recipe, so maybe it will happen. For now, I will savor the memory.

Beard Papa’s in Boston

Beard Papa's in Boston's ChinatownBack in 2006, when I was a wee baby blogger, I read an article about a place in San Francisco that sold the most amazing cream puffs called Beard Papa’s.

It was was one of my first blog posts about food and when I noticed a trend with food and lawyers. In the article, an attorney named Jordan Goldstein, gave one of my favorite quotes ever about food.

It was one of the best days of my life, said Goldstein, who returned with his friend 24 hours later to procure six more pastries. “These are like eating air.

I never forgot that quote and always remembered thinking about the cream puffs that inspired it.

cream puffs being filled collageSo last week I was at work and we were talking about food. Like always. We were saying how bringing food to employees, inspires so much goodwill and that we would all like a sweet snack. By the way, we have been bringing in snacks to share just about every week.

Then one of our supervising attorneys, who was not in the room while we were talking about wanting gifts of food, brought us some mini cream puffs. We were so happy!

smiling baker with cream puffsCome to find out, he got them from Beard Papa’s! They just recently opened in Chinatown, which is just around the corner from my current office.

After work last night, I decided to stop by and see the place for myself. There was a line of people and a bit of a wait for the cream puffs. By the way, the scent inside was thrilling and intoxicating.

The bakers fill each cream puff as you wait. I got two regular sized puffs so that I could share one with G.

We both inhaled them! The cream squishes out all over the place and the puff is delicate and crunchy. They are messy. But messy in such a playful way that you will need to lick your fingers and juggle keeping the puff together. Then you realize that you have eaten the whole thing in 5 seconds!

Ha! It’s wonderful. Now I know what Jordan was talking about.

Pain D’Avignon Holiday Pop-Up at Fairmont Copley Plaza

croissantsA few years ago, I remember hearing that one of the most amazing French bakeries was located on Cape Cod. I’ve never visited, but have always kept the name of the bakery in mind.

Then just recently I learned that this same bakery, Pain D’Avignon is having a weekly holiday pop-up at Fairmont Copley Plaza in the lobby tea court.

On Fridays, November 21, December 5, 12, & 19, 2 – 6pm and Tuesday, December 2, 5 – 7pm, they will have an array of fresh, baked goods available for purchase. I cannot wait to stop by and and finally taste how good this bread is!

If you’ve been hoping to try Pain D’Avignon’s bread too, but never made it to their Cape Cod location, now is the time to try it. The first pop-up is today!

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Photo Credit: Pain D’Avignon