Restaurants and Shops That Inspired Me to Be a Chef

I can't easily connect my career as a personal chef to one specific instance, event, or person, although my mom certainly had a big influence on me. I never was interested in restaurant work, instead opting for the up and down lifestyle of a personal chef, where everyday I'm cooking for someone different and creating new dishes. Living in Boston, which is full of so many amazing restaurants and markets, it's no wonder us Bostonians are such food lovers. There are tons and tons of places I could have chosen, but these are some of my favorites that inspired me yesterday, today, and will continue to in the future. (Photo: Richard Chudy)

Updated: March 15, 2010

Food Stops that shaped me as a chef along the way


560 Pleasant St, Watertown, MA 02472

My first venture into the world of beautiful produce, I still have fond memories shopping with my mom, back when Russo's was about half the size it is now. Everything is so fresh, I can't even imagine a world without Russo's, and if I'm not here drawing inspiration at least three times a week, somethings not right in the world.

New England Mobile Book Fair

82 Needham St, Newton Highlands, MA 02461

Okay, maybe it's technically not a food store, but with my love of food comes my love of cookbooks. Always discounted, Book Fair has one of the greatest cookbook selections I've ever seen. I've spent more money than I probably want to know about here, as the staff is always friendly, and I never leave empty handed. I may be running out of space for all my cookbooks at home, but that wont stop me from shopping here once a month.

Blue Ginger

583 Washington St, Wellesley, MA 02482

Ming Tsai, how I love thee. I've been watching his TV show for years, and a visit to Blue Ginger before I started culinary school really sealed the deal for my fate as a chef. One of my first experiences into the fine dining world, Chef Tsai has truly transformed the East meets West concept.

The Elephant Walk

2067 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02140

It was during a recreational cooking class that I took here that I decided to attend culinary school. Chef Gerard is an amazing instructor and the food has always been top notch. I really got the boost I needed, as I begun developing skills to get me to the next level.

The Biltmore Bar and Grille

1205 Chestnut St., Newton, MA 02464

It would foolish not to include a burger place on this list. Yes, I am a chef, but as anyone who knows me will tell you, all I really want to eat is a good burger. While The Biltmore isn't my top burger place in Boston, it's still very good, and it also happened to be the first restaurant I reviewed for my website (bostonburgerblog) almost a year ago. I started my journey tasting the best and worst burgers in the city, without knowing where it was headed. Well, I've been fortunate enough to be mentioned in the Globe and had been invited to judge the Burger Bash just a few weeks ago. Burgers will always be my passion, hell, if I could sit home all day and make money writing about them I would, but for now, eating one a week is fine by me.

Sur La Table

199 Boylston St Ste N231, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467

If I'm looking for a new piece of kitchen equipment, this is where I'm coming. They always have what I'm looking for and then some, it's the place you're most likely to find me when I'm killing some time during the day. Who says window shopping can't be fun?

Whole Foods Market

200 Alewife Brook Pkwy, Cambridge, MA 02138

Okay, I love Russo's no doubt about it, but this Whole Foods is incredible, and if I'm cooking for a client with no budget restrictions, this is where I shop. I could just as easily spend a few hundred dollars at the drop of a hat, or nothing, and I think that says something about a place, when I don't even have to spend any money to really appreciate it.