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Michael Schlow - Chef Extraordinaire

Michael Schlow, owner and executive chef of some of Boston’s finest restaurants (Great Bay, Radius, Via Matta, and Alta Strada in Wellesley), is the host chef of the annual Gaelic Gourmet Gala at the Hotel Commonwealth each March. We caught up with Chef Schlow to get his views on Irish cooking, Boston cooking and baseball!

We heard you visited Ireland this summer. What were your impressions?

This summer I did visit Ireland for the first time. I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the country, but the real spark for me was the people: fun, proud, hospitable, and excited to share their country with us......a great trip, first of many.

What’s your view of the culinary scene in Ireland today? Has Ireland’s recent influx of immigrants influenced the fare?

The food in Ireland was definitely much better than everyone described. I had fantastic oysters from Galway, unbelievable lamb from Kerry and a truly great meal at Thornton’s in Dublin. With all of the recent immigrants flocking to Ireland, there are a lot of different trends starting to emerge there, but I think it’s still a few years before you’ll trek to Ireland for “ethnic” cuisine.

You’ve represented the Commonwealth of Massachusetts at various tourism trade missions. What’s the perception of Boston as a cultural and culinary destination?

Everyone loves Boston, that’s for sure. While some people might still think of Boston as a second rate city when it comes to food, let me be the one to say, “They’re wrong!”

I’ve been to just about every major “food town” and while Boston might not have the deep bench some other cities have, we have restaurants in every major category that I would put up against any restaurant, any where. And, when it comes to the things that define a truly great city -- education, cuisine, medicine, architecture -- Boston does an excellent job and has so much to offer. Now if we could only get good transportation into the mix, we’d really be a world class city.

Boston was hopping during the Red Sox playoffs. Any memories that stand out for you?

Well, for me, the highlight of the entire playoffs series wasn’t when they came back from three games to one against Cleveland, and it wasn’t the sweep of the Rockies either, while that was certainly great for Red Sox Nation.

No, for me, the most memorable part about the playoffs was when it was all said and done, John Henry and Tom Werner, the owners of the Red Sox, brought the World Series trophy to Via Matta, one of my restaurants in Boston. They stayed until every fan got to take their picture with the trophy.......both saying “This is Boston’s trophy.” Very gracious and honorable guys, and my hat’s off to them for winning another series.

Michael Schlow is author of the award-winning cookbook,
It’s About Time: Recipes for Everyday Life.

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by Michael P. Quinlin

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