Tony Maws is the award-winning chef and owner behind the Northeast’s culinary gem: Craigie on Main. 2011 James Beard Award Winner for Best Chef Northeast, and a Food & Wine Best New Chef (2005), Maws is celebrated equally for his innovative and traditional work in the kitchen, and is known for his immense talent, creativity, and rugged standards and expectations for himself and his staff, as well as the farmers and suppliers who visit him daily. “Good food is what it’s all about, and we set about to accomplish that every day,” Maws says. “It all starts with ingredients. We’ve been working closely with the farmers and fishing industry since we started at Craigie Street Bistrot in 2002, and it’s been part of my philosophy long before the terms ‘locavore’ or ‘farm-to-plate’ were coined.”
Maws’ resolute commitment to these tenets is part of his core. “Basically,” he says, “these are values that are shared by about 90% of the world’s grandmothers.” Indeed, the international acclaim that Maws has earned is the result of a combination of factors—namely his innovation in culinary techniques precise enough to baffle any grandma, and an inspired ability to match just the right food combinations to create the perfect dish.
Maws opened Craigie Street Bistrot in 2002 and, aside from modest ambitions and major space limitations, the restaurant and chef earned widespread attention, including Maws’ being honored as one of the country’s “10 Best New Chefs” by Food & Wine in 2005 and “Boston’s Best Chef” by Boston magazine. He has also been featured in “Martha Stewart”, New York Times, Food & Wine, Bon Appétit, Travel + Leisure, Gourmet, The Boston Globe, and on MSN.com, as well as NBC’s “Today” show and Fox News.
Maws’ commitment to his guests and their dining experience has not changed— but his location has. Maws closed Craigie Street Bistrot and opened Craigie on Main in 2008. At Craigie on Main, Maws’ earthy and his mad-scientist sides combine to create a menu that he describes as “refined rusticity.” Working nightly behind the line, writing the menu that changes daily, directing the wine program, and making time for afternoon visits from his wife Karolyn, and his son, Charlie, Craigie on Main is a family-run business where guests are welcomed to a dinner party in Tony’s home.
Tony has worked in restaurants—17 in all—since he was a teenager, and has performed every restaurant job. With a B.A. in psychology from the University of Michigan (which is surprisingly helpful in this customer-focused industry) Tony earned his culinary chops during an eight-year journey that included stints working under Kenneth Oringer at Clio and Steve Johnson at the Blue Room, both in Boston; Bernard Constantin at Restaurant Larivoire in Lyon, France; Roland Passot at La Folie and Wolfgang Puck at Postrio, both in San Francisco; and Mark Miller at Coyote Café in Santa Fe, NM. Tony is particularly grateful to Chef Chris Schlesinger for giving him his first big break: a chance to chop vegetables at the East Coast Grill.
Maws, who grew up in Newton, now lives in Cambridge with Karolyn and Charlie. A career highlight to date happened in 2009 when he cooked for his favorite band, Wilco, at his restaurant. His interests outside of cooking include the Red Sox and Patriots, reading cookbooks for pleasure (he has a collection of more than 200), skiing, eating Chinese food, and traveling—particularly to France.
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