An honors graduate of Harvard College with a degree in Applied Mathematics and Economics, Joanne left a career as a management consultant to enter the world of professional cooking.
She started as garde-manger cook at Boston’s renowned Biba restaurant, worked for a year assisting the owner/head-baker of Bentonwood Bakery in Newton, and in 1995 was hired as Pastry Chef at Rialto restaurant in Cambridge.
Joanne moved to New York City in 1997 to work in the cake department of the critically acclaimed Payard Patisserie and Bistro. Returning to Boston a year later with dreams of opening up her own pastry shop, she brought her French and American training to Mistral where she was the Pastry Chef until summer of 2000.
In 2000, she opened Flour, a bakery and café, in Boston’s South End. Flour features breakfast pastries, breads, cakes, cookies, and tarts as well as sandwiches, soups, and salads. In 2007 she opened a second branch of Flour in the Fort Point Channel area. Flour has been featured in Gourmet, Food and Wine, the New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, Lucky Magazine, Inc. Magazine, and Boston Magazine and has received numerous Best of Boston awards. Flour was also featured on Throwdown with Bobby Flay on the Food Network in which Joanne’s sticky buns won over Chef Flay’s.
She opened a Chinese eatery called Myers+Chang with her fiancé Christopher Myers in the South End neighborhood in the fall of 2007. Myers+Chang is a funky casual Asian restaurant that focuses on Pan-Asian dishes from her childhood and Christopher’s Chinese dining experiences.
Joanne’s energetic commitment to excellence extends beyond the kitchen. She writes pastry articles and reviews cookbooks for Fine Cooking magazine. She teaches classes and advises pastry cooks both within the bakery and at area cooking schools. An avid runner, she has competed in every Boston Marathon from 1991 – 2006.
Q: So we’re all salivating over your new cookbook, Flour, too – when does it come out? how does the experience of writing a savory cookbook compare to your previous experience writing your first cookbook, Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Café, which was focused on pastries and desserts?
A: Flour, too comes out in spring of 2013. It was definitely different to do a mostly savory cookbook (although there are a lot of sweets in here too) in that none of these recipes were already written out like the pastry recipes were. The chefs tend to cook more from their heads and hearts and I spent a lot of time with them trying to get actual quantities and times to replicate the dishes they make.
Q: What do you most like to cook at home? What’s your favorite menu item at Flour? And at Myers + Chang?
A: I love a basic roast chicken with vegetables – we eat so much Chinese food typically from take out at M+C and going out to Chinese restaurants around town that when I’m cooking at home these days I like to go simple. My favorite Flour item is the pain aux raisin and my favorite dish at M+C is the pan roasted soy glazed salmon.
Q: What is the most challenging aspect of running four restaurants?
A: Trying to spend enough time at all four places is challenging. I love them all and wish I had about ten more hours in each day so I could spend more time with the staffs at each. I always feel like I’m leaving about two hours earlier than I want to when I jet off to another location.
Q: You’re committed to working with many charity organizations and social impact groups – what inspired you to get involved with Lovin’ Spoonfuls?
A: It’s such a no brainer! We have food that we end up throwing away that is really good food! So to have a regular pick up system from LS just makes so much sense.
Q: Why do you think Boston needs Lovin’ Spoonfuls?
A: Again, it just makes sense. So much food is wasted because it’s not visually perfect or customers aren’t purchasing it in time and all of this food should be given to people who don’t have access to good fresh food.
Q: So, keeping with our theme of waste not, want not -what is your favorite recipe/way to use up leftovers?
A: We use leftovers at M+C for our family meal, which is the meal we make for our staff each day. It’s often the best meal we make all day long! At Flour we love making bread pudding, which uses up old bread and pastries and makes them delectable!
Q: What’s up next for you and the Flour empire?
A: We’re working on opening Flour 4 in Back Bay!