From chopping vegetables at East Coast Grill to working under Ken Oringer at Clio, Tony Maws learned his trade in the trenches. Bypassing culinary school in favor of a self-propelled 10-year quest might have been a risk, but it proved the right move for the University of Michigan graduate, who wanted to learn watching the great masters at work.
Like anyone in search of the wisdom of the great masters, Maws was eventually drawn to Europe. And it was here, while living and working in Lyon, France, that he first experienced the philosophy of the bistros modernes, where classical training was seamlessly fused with an emphasis on fresh ingredients, simple preparations, and creativity. Maws, who was always more likely to identify with the seasoned culinary wisdom of a grandmother than a textbook, was instantly inspired by the honesty and lack of pretension.
And he brought his inspiration home to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he began planning his Bostonian answer to Paris’s Left Bank. Craigie Street Bistrot, now Craigie on Main, is a warm, inviting setting where the once itinerant chef is now happily settled and serving up “refined rusticity.” And since it opened, the restaurant has earned Maws a 2006 StarChefs.com Rising Star Chef award, as well as spots on important top 10 rankings. The restaurant was named one of Boston’s “10 Most Influential Restaurants of the Decade” by The Boston Globe, and Maws himself was named one of America’s “10 Best New Chefs” by Food & Wine. Of course Maws doesn’t settle for simply cooking—he’s also the restaurant’s wine director, dedicated to finding the best value for his diners. And even though winning the 2011 James Beard Foundation Awards “Best Chef Northeast” might feel like well-earned a career-finale, for Maws, now a master himself, it’s just a stop on the journey.