Ana Sortun | Chef/Owner
Best Chef: Northeast, 2005 – James Beard Foundation
Sortun is one of the country's "best creative fusion practitioners." Her food is "inspired and inspiring." – Mimi Sheraton, Eating My Words
Sortun's food "is at once rustic-traditional and deeply inventive." – Catharine Reynolds, New York Times
"Should you have time for only one place to eat, make it this space." –Tom Sietsema, Washington Post
With a degree from La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine in Paris, the Seattle-born Ana Sortun opened Moncef Medeb's Aigo Bistro in Concord, Massachusetts, in the early 1990s. Stints at 8 Holyoke and Casablanca in Harvard Square, Cambridge soon followed.
This was all in the beginning of her career, when Sortun was still cooking what most people think of as typical Mediterranean food from Spain, southern France and Italy. People loved it. While at Casablanca, a friend of the owner invited Sortun to study in Turkey.
Not knowing anything about Turkish food or culture but eager to learn, she accepted. ("I imagined flying carpets and genies," she says wryly.) But when she arrived in southeastern Turkey, Sortun's host and her friends presented a potluck of sorts. "I tasted 30 amazing dishes from these women's family repertoires," Sortun remembers. "I was stunned at how rich and interesting yet light everything was."
That trip was when she learned that in the Mediterranean, spice is used to create richness, depth and flavor without heaviness. She also experienced the mezze style of eating, which is to have many tastes of mostly vegetable-based dishes before reaching a protein course. "Chefs always focus on flavor and appearance," says Sortun, "but few think about how one feels after eating a long meal."
Upon her return to Boston, she wanted to fuse her newfound love of Eastern Mediterranean spices with her passion for using only the best ingredients. The result of this union was Oleana, which opened in Cambridge in 2001. A mere four years later, Sortun won a coveted and prestigious James Beard Award.
Sortun's commitment to locally grown food took a turn for the personal when a farmer selling spinach turned up at the back door of Oleana one day. "I knew then that I would marry him," Sortun says. Since 2006, Siena Farms has been providing the restaurant with most of its fresh, organic produce. It is owned and farmed by the chef's husband, Chris Kurth, and named after the couple's daughter.
Not content to rest on their laurels, Sortun , business partner Gary Griffin and pastry chef Kilpatrick decided they wanted to launch a more casual venue. Three years of brainstorming later, in August of 2008, Sofra was born in Cambridge, Mass. This Middle Eastern bakery, café and retail shop offers flatbread sandwiches, mezzes, prepared foods and baked goods. It has received both local and national press; Food & Wine, Metropolitan Home and Gourmet have all featured it as a place not to miss.
Hedy Goldsmith | Pastry Chef
When speaking about can’t-miss desserts, no other name in the region elicits a more passionate response than that of Hedy Goldsmith, a 2012 & 2013 James Beard Award finalist for the nationally-contested Outstanding Pastry Chef category. Her creations grace the menus of The Genuine Hospitality Group of restaurants including Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink in Miami and Grand Cayman, Harry’s Pizzeria and The Cypress Room, as well as Restaurant Michael Schwartz at South Beach’s iconic Raleigh Hotel.
Goldsmith’s first cookbook, BAKING OUT LOUD: Fun Desserts with Big Flavors (Clarkson Potter), is now on sale as of October 2012.
The media’s hunger for her and her desserts is insatiable with coverage on TODAY Show and Food Network, The New York Times, PEOPLE Magazine, Wall Street Journal, Wine Spectator, Food & Wine and more, as well as regular contributions to Cooking Channel’s Unique Sweets. Goldsmith creates seasonal recipes for cookingchannel.com and blogs about all things sweet on foodnetwork.com
Since James Beard award-winning chef Michael Schwartz opened Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink in 2007, Goldsmith’s perfectly sweet match to his restaurants’ fresh, simple and pure cuisine has made it shine.
Goldsmith lends her time and support to a number of causes dear to heart like Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation in the fight against childhood cancer. Goldsmith holds a B.A. in Photography and Film from the Philadelphia College of Art and graduated with honors from the Culinary Institute of America’s Baking & Pastry program in New York. She currently resides in Coral Gables, Florida with her partner and their two shih tzu’s, Sweetpea & Cooper.
Follow Hedy on Twitter: @hedygoldsmith
Gesine Bullock-Prado | Pastry ChefGesine Bullock-Prado, renowned pastry chef and author of the baking memoir My Life from Scratch and the cookbooks Sugar Baby, Pie It Forward and the newest, Bake It Like You Mean It, lives in Hartford, Vermont, with 3 dogs, 8 chickens, 12 Indian Runner ducks, 9 geese & 1 wonderful husband. Her pastry shop, Gesine Confectionary, won critical raves and an international following. She now uses her animal's eggs in her commercial bakery and maintains historic apple trees, boils the sap from her sugar maples for a year round supply of syrup and plays in her large garden to harvest the ingredients that bring her pastries to vibrant life. She's a regular guest chef instructor at King Arthur Flour and a contributing guest food editor for Runner's World, providing runners with healthy alternatives to their favorite baked goodies. Bullock-Prado and her sweets have been featured on the Today Show, Fox and Friends, ABC's the Revolution, Rachael Ray Show, Food Network, Better Homes & Gardens, Ladies Home Journal, In Style, Elle Decor, Shape Magazine, Modern Baking and People Magazine.