Chefs from Greater Boston on the food they wish they could still serve in their restaurants during the coronavirus lockdown.
When the coronavirus prompted Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker to ban eating at restaurants, the food scene in the Boston area changed dramatically, for chefs and diners. We want to connect them again.
General Manager Chris Lane, who’s worked at Sullivan’s for more than 30 years, talks about a dish that regulars to this seaside landmark in South Boston always come back for, plus something the restaurant will be trying for the very first time to adapt to the coronavirus crisis.
Every spring, SRV regulars start asking chef Michael Lombardi when he's going to start making a simple, seasonal pasta dish they can't get enough of. He told us about the science behind making that pasta from scratch, with house-milled flour, and how the restaurant is supporting its workers after having to lay them off when it temporarily closed.
Julie and Bessie King, the mother and daughter who own and run Villa Mexico Cafe, have overcome their fair share of difficulties over the last 20 years, including a fire that burned down their first location. They said they were really getting going in March -- then the coronavirus hit, and now they’re having trouble simply buying basic ingredients.
This restaurant is so intimate, all the diners sit at one table together and often eat with their hands. The collective the created Tanám wanted to use it to tell the stories of marginalized people. But to keep it going amid the coronavirus pandemic, they're already planning what the restaurant's next form will take.
Fresh fish has been in Roger Berkowitz's family for generations, going back to their fish stand in Cambridge's Inman Square. Now, Berkowitz sells fish as CEO and president of the Legal Sea Foods empire, spanning five states and Washington, D.C. But he decided to close his restaurants down when the coronavirus pandemic hit, and he told us he really misses serving up one shrimp dish that he created on a whim about 40 years ago.
Chef Carlos Rodriguez was determined not to close his three restaurants when the coronavirus lockdown came, and he was able to just do that based on what he learned when he lost his first restaurants in his native Venezuela 20 years ago. Today he's kept his staff employed by feeding frontline workers through donations, but that doesn't mean things are back to normal, and he wishes he could still be serving his special twist on ceviche.
In this special episode, Marc Hurwitz, the founder and editor of local food scene guide and news blog Boston's Hidden Restaurants, told us about the state of dining in Boston ahead of its first step toward reopening. He explained how precarious the Boston food landscape looks right now, how restaurants may or may not be able to deal with the requirements for reopening and what he misses eating around town most.
Chef Carolyn Johnson used to manage three different dining services at her three-year-old restaurant Mooncusser Fish Tavern in Boston's Back Bay. But when the coronavirus pandemic arrived and it went on lockdown, she pivoted away from its raw fish and fine dining side and leaned on its takeout window.
"I'm not gonna lie, cooking roast beef sandwiches is not professionally fulfilling for me," she told us. "But it's keeping my businesses alive, so we're going to do it, you know?"
Still, she misses the restaurant's raw seafood dining program and told us longingly about the different fish plates she used to assemble.
In chef Howie Haywood's long career, he's worked for one of Boston's first celebrity chefs, played restaurant-league rugby in France and owned his own restaurant in a heavenly part of New England. But COVID-19 forced him to stay home from the three Boston-area restaurants he now oversees as executive chef and "food guy," LongCross, Olde Magoun's Saloon and Blackmoor Bar and Kitchen.