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30 Under 30: Boston's Hottest Up-and-Comers

By Scott Kearnan
December 11, 2013

Our second annual list of Boston's brightest, youngest food-world stars is even more diverse than the first. There's the Australian-born coffee geek who makes some of the city's best espresso drinks on a tricked-out tricycle, and a nano-brewer who makes some of the region's most sought-after beers. Some work for local legends like Barbara Lynch and Tony Maws, others have struck out on their own. What they all have in common is a passion for making Boston's food, restaurant and drink scene into one of the most vibrant and thriving in the nation. Click below to meet Boston's stars of tomorrow, then make a plan to see them in action

  • Name: Danielle Ayer
    Age: 28
    Gig: General Manager and Beverage Director at BRONWYN Restaurant

    If you are only as good as the company you keep, then it’s clear why Ayer is such a hot commodity. She’s the GM at one of 2013’s most-anticipated openings under one of the region’s most-celebrated chef-owners (Tim Wiechmann). “Her [beverage] list is precise and sets new trends,” praises Weichmann of Ayer, who previously worked for him at TW Food. Before opening BRONWYN, Ayer went to Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic to research the restaurant’s Central European style. Now, Bronwyn’s cocktail menu features esoteric Teutonic spirits like Kümmel (a caraway-spiced liqueur) and Bärenjäger (a honey liqueur), and the wine list features little-known varietals like Frühburgunder and Rotgipfler. She’s still not done learning. Ayer is currently studying at BU to pursue her Master Sommelier certification.

    Side Dish
    • Sci-fi fans, you have a friend in Ayer. She once watched the entire Battlestar Galactica series, start to finish, in less than three weeks. More recently, she adopted a stray cat and named her Tiberius, a reference to the middle name of William Shatner’s Star Trek character Captain Kirk.

  • Name: Jared Bacheller
    Age: 29
    Gig: Pastry Chef at L’Espalier

    Bacheller’s passion for pastry cream and chocolate ganache runs deep - he grew up watching his mother run a cake company out of their home. Today, he’s worked at a list of impressive kitchens that would dazzle veterans twice his age, venues including Boston’s Ritz-Carlton, Copenhagen’s Noma and New York City’s Le Bernardin. At the iconic L’Espalier, Bacheller’s desserts mix incredible technique with whimsical ideas and some unusual flavor combinations - the “Coffee and Smoke” dessert mixes a chocolate espresso crémeux with clove ash and vanilla sunchoke ice cream. We’re on a sugar high knowing this globe-trotting talent is right here in the Hub.  

    Side Dish
    • The pastry chef is also a beekeeper and makes his own honey with a breed of Italian honeybees.
    • Bacheller is fanatical about his rockabilly-inspired hairdo, which takes about two hours to perfect at the Shag salon in South Boston.

  • Name: Alessandro Bellino
    Age: 29
    Gig: Owner and Operator of The Coffee Trike

    Food trucks? So 2012. This was the year of The Coffee Trike, the brainchild of Australian native Bellino, a former United States Barista Championship competitor. Since last fall, he’s been driving all over town his tricked-out tricycle, a completely self-contained specialty coffee shop that delivers espressos, cappuccinos and more. And not only does it run on pedal power, but the Coffee Trike also tries to promote small business and sustainability: he brews with beans from Acton’s George Howell Coffee Company, serves milk from Hadley’s Mapleline Farm, and uses only biodegradable and compostable paper goods.

    Side Dish
    • Bellino holds two degrees in music: one in Jazz Voice Performance from the Queensland Conservatory of Music, and one in Professional Music from Berklee College of Music.
    • In 1993, he took third place in a Super Mario Kart competition in Brisbane, Australia. His brother came in first.

  • Name: Stephanie Cmar
    Age: 28
    Gig: Sous-Chef at No. 9 Park

    Cmar started her cooking career at the top, literally. Her first post-culinary-school job was at Boston’s cloud-scraping Top of the Hub. Next up: a stint in local legend Barbara Lynch’s empire. She established herself at B&G Oysters in the South End before moving to Lynch’s Beacon Hill flagship. Now Cmar is back on Top - Top Chef, that is. She’s in the midst of a second go-round of the cooking competition.

    Side Dish
    • Cmar previously competed on Top Chef Season 10 alongside the eventual winner (and colleague) Kristen Kish, who is currently chef de cuisine at Barbara Lynch’s Menton.

  • Name: Nichole Crosby
    Age: 27
    Gig: Director of Operations at Dramshop Hospitality

    Crosby entered the hospitality world almost as an aside, managing the bar at The Dogwood Café during college. But now, she’s at the helm of a Boston-based hospitality group that is growing fast. She first discovered Dramshop Hospitality as the group was launching Rye Tavern in her hometown of Plymouth. Crosby wound up taking the lead in opening Rye, as well as Dramshop’s two Union Fish locations. Soon she was also overseeing Boston’s Church and Brookline’s Regal Beagle, where she dusted off those bar manager skills to reinvigorate the cocktail programs and worked to emphasize local sourcing as paramount to the Dramshop identity. That’s something Crosby takes seriously, and it’s not uncommon to find her personally accompanying chefs on farm visits. She’s one hands-on hospitality-group guru.

    Side Dish
    • When she’s not managing the Dramshop properties, Crosby runs a wedding planning business on the side. Ironically, she and her husband eloped to Aruba.
    • She’s a budding home-brewer and debuted her first batch of pumpkin beer this fall.

  • Name: Andrew Deitz
    Age: 29
    Gig: Massachusetts State On-Premise Consultant at M.S. Walker, Inc.

    Andrew Dietz is like a human Swiss Army Knife for Boston’s beverage scene. He spent years overseeing the wine, spirits and beer programs at the high-end BRIX Wine Shop locations in the South End and Financial District, and then became a top salesperson with wine and spirits distributor M.S. Walker. Now in his current hybrid role, Deitz is a one-man imbiber’s resource, a know-all (but never know-it-all) network builder every bar manager has on speed dial, and a dedicated advocate of Boston’s cocktail culture. This year, he co-founded Thirst Boston, a multiday festival that emphasized the Hub’s beverage heritage while educating the city’s mixologists on burgeoning trends. Deitz, we raise a glass in your direction.

    Side Dish
    • His favorite place to have a drink? His living room. Says Deitz: “Despite going out 29 nights of the month, my definition of a perfect evening still involves a bad ’80s movie, the marriage of Indian Food and Mosel Riesling, and the fetal position on my couch.”

  • Name: Katie Emmerson
    Age: 29
    Gig: Bar Manager at The Hawthorne

    If the world is a stage, then Emmerson is the leading lady of our local cocktail scene. The New York native once traveled the world as a musical theater performer, but discovered the world of craft cocktails while working in Manhattan restaurants. She honed her technique with experts like Meaghan Dorman at Raines Law Room and Joaquin Simo at Death & Co. Soon, Emmerson was recognized as one of Beverage Media’s 10 Mixologists to Watch and was selected for a competitive apprenticeship program at Tales of the Cocktail. That’s where she met Boston cocktail master Jackson Cannon and his team from Eastern Standard; now she’s bar manager of its sister spot, The Hawthorne, which she led to the finals of the Best American Cocktail Bar competition at this year’s Tales of a Cocktail.  

    Side Dish
    • Emmerson knows how to pour a drink and rock a casbah. She used to be the drummer in an all-female Clash cover band.
    • Even classy cocktail gurus have their guilty pleasures. For Emmerson, it’s an amaretto sour.

  • Name: Andrew Foster
    Age: 28
    Gig: Co-Owner at Fairsted Kitchen

    Foster’s story is a prime example of small steps and steady, hard work paying big rewards. He opened Belmont’s high-end Italian Il Casale as maitre d’ when he moved here four years ago and immediately began familiarizing himself with the behind-the-scenes work required to run a restaurant. Hungry for more, he moved to Amelia’s Trattoria to gain experience as a server, then spent two years managing Harvard Square’s Russell House Tavern. Most recently, he managed and consulted at Area Four and honed hospitality skills and wine knowledge at Deuxave. This fall, he combined all aspects of his wide experience to open his Brookline Modern American, Fairsted Kitchen. Between its bold menu, innovative beverage program and fully realized Victorian-era aesthetic, it’s a virgin voyage as ambitious as its captain.

    Side Dish
    • When he’s not in the kitchen, you’ll often find Foster curled up with a book. He loves to read, and one of his favorite works is the short story A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

  • Name: Jeffrey Gauches
    Age: 29
    Gig: Chief Operations Officer at Boston Nightlife Ventures (Forum, The Tap, Griddler's, Blind Tiger)

    Streamlining operations for a growing hospitality group is always a challenge, but this year was an especially difficult one for Gauches. Boston Nightlife Ventures’ high-end restaurant Forum, located at the Boston Marathon finish line, was badly damaged by the bombing and was the last Boylston Street business to reopen after the attack. As its staff slowly healed from the trauma, Gauches got the spot back on track amid substantial renovations. He also managed the day-to-day of a portfolio that includes a big mainstream bar (The Tap) and a casual burger spot (Griddler’s Burgers & Dogs), and is expanding with the Blind Tiger, a craft cocktail den set to open in the South End in early 2014.

    Side Dish
    • Gauches loves biscuits. But not the edible type: he’s a huge fan of jam band The Disco Biscuits and says his favorite concert of all time was seeing them perform in the 2002 Bonnaroo lineup.

  • Name: Ben Howe
    Age: 28
    Gig: Brewer and Founder at Enlightenment Ales

    Howe is emblematic of the craft beer movement - he’s inspired by his love of yeast, hops and grain. Howe’s career started with volunteer stints at breweries in Western Massachusetts before landing a job as an assistant brewer at Cambridge Brewing Co., where his first pro recipe was selected as the Symposium Beer for the 2009 national Craft Brewers’ Conference. Next came a scholarship to attend brewing school, after which he moved his equipment into a small garage space in Lowell, where he was barely able to keep up with the big demand for his specialty, bière de champagne: a golden-hued Belgian style that uses some champagne techniques to achieve a deeply complex brew. This month, Enlightenment entered into a partnership with Idle Hands Craft Ales, with Howe becoming head brewer for both brands and Idle's first full-time staffer. 

    Side Dish
    • Howe taps friend and artist Liz Jacobs to produce original paintings for each of his labels. “We like to think of it as a collaborative art show,” he says, “her art on the bottle, my art inside.”

  • Name: Ryan P. Kelly
    Age: 28
    Gig: Executive Chef at BoMA Restaurant

    Chef Kelly’s food career started inauspiciously: in the kitchen of a small-town country club in upstate New York. The food wasn’t cutting-edge, but he learned something important. “The access to local, homegrown foods shaped my understanding of food and what a good meal should be,” he says. After passing through Somerville’s Foundry On Elm and Jamaica Plain’s Canary Square and Tonic, Kelly now brings his elevated-but-accessible approach to the South End’s BoMA, where he adds curry butter to grilled corn-on-the-cob and stuffs zucchini blossoms with sun-dried tomatoes, capers and ricotta cheese.

    Side Dish
    • Though he’s from New York, Kelly is a rabid Boston sports fan. In fact, he first moved to Boston to attend school for sports journalism.
    • When he’s not in the kitchen, you’ll probably find him playing Wiffle ball. The self-described “addict” even constructed a miniature ballpark in the alley behind BoMA.

  • Name: Sabrina Kershaw
    Age: 28
    Gig: Assistant Bar and Beverage Director at Franklin Restaurant Group

    Kershaw is a rising star in Boston’s cocktail scene. Holding court among the 90-plus whiskeys at Citizen Public House & Oyster Bar (one of the Franklin Restaurant Group’s seven Boston spots), she pours some of the best and most well-balanced cocktails in town - though she’s not too highbrow to mix up awesome slushie cocktails, like a piña colada spiked with Fernet Branca. Kershaw’s also won up some nice accolades: she served in the Tales of the Cocktail Apprentice program and is a member of Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails (LUPEC), a clique of Boston’s top female beverage talent that has raised more than $40,000 for women’s charities since its inception.

    Side Dish
    • She can shake up a drink, but Kershaw can shake it on the dance floor as well. She spent years studying many styles of dance: tap, jazz, modern, ballet and hip-hop. She even learned how to perform a traditional hula dance by the age of 12.

  • Name: Adam Kube
    Age: 26
    Gig: Executive Sous-Chef at The Ritz-Carlton, Boston Common

    Kube may be one of the youngest chefs in the city to helm a hotel restaurant, but he does it for one of the oldest and most established brands around: The Ritz-Carlton. Kube got his start at the company’s Key Biscayne venue, where he worked full-time while attending culinary school. He moved north to the Boston Common property in 2007 and quickly rose from kitchen supervisor to executive sous-chef. He now oversees the menu for Artisan Bistro, where his approach to elevated global gastropub fare has reinvigorated the Downtown hotel’s dining scene.

    Side Dish
    • When he’s not cooking, Kube loves to spend his free time on the golf course with friends. But he confesses that, unlike cooking, it’s not his strong suit.

  • Name: Emily Larkins
    Age: 28
    Gig: Wine Director at Craigie on Main

    When Larkins first took a job at chef Tony Maws’ Cambridge landmark, she thought it would be a temporary gig while applying to graduate school. She wound up finding her education in a wine glass, intoxicated by the beverage itself. “There was a whole new world for me to learn about,” she says. Now she directs the wine program for one of Boston’s most acclaimed restaurants and hopes that her adventurous approach will make Craigie a classroom for others. “The other night, a guest said to me, ‘I love your list because I've never heard of any of these wines,’” she says.

    Side Dish
    • Larkins says she is an “acid freak” who’s hooked on champagne and German Riesling. Her love for tart flavors started very young: “As a kid, I made popsicles out of pickle juice!”

  • Name: Joshua Lewin
    Age: 29
    Gig: Executive Chef at Beacon Hill Hotel & Bistro

    When he was 13 years old, Josh Lewin wrote up a business plan. He envisioned turning his family’s ranch house into a bed-and-breakfast; his responsibility would be cooking meals using fresh vegetables and berries from a backyard garden. It was good practice. Today, Lewin leads the kitchen at Beacon Hill Hotel & Bistro (following the departure of chef Jason Bondir), bringing a deep passion for working with local farmers and purveyors and a fondess for multi-ethnic flavors. We also love that Lewin also has his own quirky pop-ups on the side, including one focused on modern Jewish cuisine (Kitchen Kibitz) and another on Tex-Mex (Austinland).

    Side Dish
    • Lewin has cooked with some great talents, but the single chef who has been the biggest influence in his life is his 90-year-old grandmother.

  • Name: Kevin Mabry
    Age: 26
    Gig: Bar Manager at jm Curley

    Since it opened, jm Curley has emerged as an undisputed favorite for down-to-earth young professionals. They first came for chef Sam Monsour’s cool and creative food, but they’ve stayed in large part because of Mabry’s stellar beverage program. As expert as Mabry is at creating craft cocktails, we think the Boston Bartenders Collaborative member’s knack for relationship-building with regulars and networking within the beverage community has as much to do with his success. They’re skills he honed in earlier days helping at his parents’ Connecticut sports bars and working the bar at Bobby Flay’s Mohegan Sun. And soon he'll bring them to Merrill & Co., a seafood-centric spot opening in the South End next year, which he'll oversee in addition to jm Curley. 

    Side Dish
    • Mabry once considered going in a very different direction: he majored in physiology and neurobiology at the University of Connecticut.
    • After winning the Cochon 555 Punch King battle earlier this year, he represented Boston at the national competition in Denver.

  • Name: Stephen Martyak
    Age: 29
    Gig: Design Principal and Founder of studioTYAK

    Since establishing his design and branding studio just one year ago, Martyak has already been responsible for the interiors of some of the city’s most highly anticipated restaurants and entertainment venues. And they run the gamut, from glam South End steakhouse Boston Chops to nightclub-cum-restaurant The Sinclair. The self-described “Southern boy” earned his degree in design studies at Boston Architectural College, where he’s already adjunct faculty, and his masters of architecture from Savannah College of Art and Design. After passing through Boston’s highly regarded firm Flavin Architects, Martyak founded his boutique agency in fall 2012 and has been making Boston’s dining scene more beautiful ever since - and, we suspect, for a long time to come.  

    Side Dish
    • He might work on sprawling spaces, but Martyak is based out of his 435-sq.-ft. live-work condo in the Fenway. “Efficiency, organization and cleanliness are key,” he says.
    • Behold his hair! Well-groomed Martyak’s trademark tresses actually come easy: “Contrary to belief my hair takes less than three minutes to coif!”

  • Name: Peter McKenzie
    Age: 26
    Gig: Sous-Chef at Rialto

    For McKenzie, who studied lab science in college, the kitchen is like a laboratory, and culinary experiments are his area of expertise. He honed his skills in his hometown of Washington, DC, working with James Beard Award-winning chef Jeffrey Buben at French restaurant Vidalia. He found himself recommended for a job at Rialto, where at age 20 he joined star chef Jody Adams as a line cook at one of Cambridge’s most prestigious kitchens. Now he’s sous-chef, working behind the scenes to bring Adams’ famed interpretations of traditional Italian cuisine to life and nurturing his always-evolving creative streak: the famous rotating Sunday burger specials are usually his invention, especially if ghost chile aïoli is involved.

    Side Dish
    • Growing up, McKenzie remembers visiting his great uncle, who used to ferment his own pickles and cure meats in his basement, and he remains especially enthusiastic about curing and preserving.
    • His next big project: fatherhood! He’s expecting a baby boy in February with wife Mareena McKenzie, pastry chef at Ribelle.

  • Name: Rachel Miller
    Age: 25
    Gig: Sous-Chef at Bondir Concord

    Plenty of chefs talk about the importance of sustainability, but Miller truly practices what she preaches. The Virginia native honed her butchering at the famous former Lionette’s Market, a sustainable meat shop in the South End, working simultaneously as a sous-chef at Alchemy Lounge. Next came Beacon Hill Hotel & Bistro, where she honed her craft under chef Jason Bond. Itchy for even more inspiration, Miller and her partner decided to move to Texas, where they began their own farm, then traveled through Appalachia and the South to “revisit the places that inspired me to cook in the first place.” She returned to Boston to accept an invitation from Bond to be his first sous-chef at his heralded new Cambridge gem Bondir; now, she’ll be a driving force for Bondir Concord.

    Side Dish
    • Miller enjoys studying entomophagy, the use of insects as food. Yes, she’s eaten crickets.
    • She and her partner also established Bondir Gardens, a biointensive farm providing the restaurant with rare veggies and flowers.

  • Name: Adrienne Mosier
    Age: 28
    Gig: Chef de Cuisine at Deuxave

    “Food is worth arguing about.” That’s something that Mosier says she learned from her grandparents: not because fighting is fun, but because great food should spark passion and opinion. It’s a philosophy Mosier, who comes from a long line of cooks, has adhered to while blazing her own path through culinary school at Johnson & Wales University; internships in Singapore, Bangkok, Thailand and Ogunquit, where she worked at acclaimed Arrows Restaurant; and into her first professional job at Michael Schlow’s famous former Radius, where she moved from line cook to sous-chef within one year. After a year as sous at Deuxave, she’s bringing a creative approach to the chef de cuisine position, looking to “push my food with research and experimentation.” We can’t argue with that.

    Side Dish
    • Despite her already-packed schedule, one of Mosier’s favorite pastimes is throwing 12-person brunches, dinners and soirées with her husband.
    • The natural athlete stays active through a number of favorite activities: she runs, snowboards, bikes, swims and wakeboards, to name a few.

  • Name: Jake Novick-Finder
    Age: 23
    Gig: Executive Pastry Chef at Ribelle (Brookline, MA) and Strip-T’s (Watertown, MA)

    Last year, we honored chef Tim Maslow for his work at Watertown’s Strip-T’s; this year, he’s continued his winning streak with the opening of Brookline’s already-raved-about Ribelle. Maslow’s also an excellent talent scout. The proof: Wunderkind pastry chef Novick-Finder is crafting some of the most incredible dessert menus around, full of modern takes on comfort-food sweets, like his sourdough brioche donut with banana squash and bourbon meringue. Novick-Finder’s talent and experience belie his age: he’s already been a pastry cook for top New York City restaurants like Chanterelle, Gramercy Tavern, Union Square Café and Otto Enoteca. We consider it a sweet victory to have him here.

    Side Dish
    • Last year, Novick-Finder started a blog (aspoonintheroad.com) to document a 10-day cross-country road trip to try 25 of the best ice cream shops in the U.S.
    • Novick-Finder started his own mail-order chocolate company, The Jakery (thejakery.com), when he was just 14 years old. It’s still in business.

  • Name: Joe O’Connor
    Age: 28
    Gig: Bar and Beverage Director at Big Night Entertainment Group

    At 28, most guys spend their weekends drinking at nightspots. O’Connor? He’s running them. Or at least, he runs the lucrative beverage programs for Boston-based Big Night Entertainment Group, which has half a dozen restaurants and lounges in its portfolio, including Red Lantern, Empire, GEM and The Estate in Boston plus various venues at Foxwoods Resort Casino. That O’Connor is trusted with that massive undertaking is a testament to his talent - and hard work. After moving to Boston, he scored a management position at South End brasserie Gaslight, where his bright, friendly smile made him stand out. So did his approach to drinks, a playful style encompassing everything from refined classic cocktails to themed concoctions.

    Side Dish
    • When he’s not behind the bar, O’Connor can often be found at Chuck E. Cheese’s, his favorite place to hang with his “best friend”: his son. “I’m a regular,” he admits. “I bought 300 tokens in one week!”

  • Name: Margiana Petersen-Rockney
    Age: 24
    Gig: Organizer and Farmer at Beginning Farmer Network

    Petersen-Rockney is cultivating a movement. She understands firsthand the challenges facing new farmers: she grew up on a farm and leased 5 acres to start Rosasharn Farm while studying at Brown University. But what she really wanted to grow was community. Enter: Young Farmer Nights, her networking series that led to the creation of Pasture To Plate, a statewide program of workshops and dinners designed to bridge the gap between host farms and the local public. (Both programs are housed under the auspice of her Young Farmer Network, which will soon include a farmer’s technical school too.) All this is in addition to her day job at New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, a Tufts University-founded organization working with fledgling farmers to learn business and field skills and find land.

    Side Dish
    • Petersen-Rockney says she “loves the quiet found in the wild.” She visits eastern oak forests to forage edible wild mushrooms to sell to local restaurants.
    • Though she closed her CSA in the fall of 2012, she can't keep off the farm and is still growing half an acre of her own seed-saved strain of garlic.

  • Name: Kaylee Platt
    Age: 26
    Gig: Food and Beverage Manager at City Table in the Lenox Hotel

    In her role at City Table, Platt is used to caring for all kinds of guests. But she never could have expected the experience she had in April. The Lenox Hotel, located less than a block from the Boston Marathon finish line, was evacuated in the immediate aftermath of the tragic bombings that shocked and saddened the city. The next day, she found that the hotel had become a command center for state and federal officials investigating the event. So Platt did what she does best: she took care of them. Over the next eight days, she managed a team that cared for dozens of vital personnel and their guests. During that time, she says, she also saw the best of the city: letters from around the country arrived with tip money for the temporarily displaced waitstaff. Platt, here’s our gratuity: thank you.

    Side Dish
    • Is Platt a future pastry chef? Probably not, but she is an avid baker who claims she makes “the best whoopie pies around. Just light, fluffy and cake-y enough!”
    • She has been a dancing machine ever since winning teenage tap contests. Her signature move: a jump that lands into a split.

  • Name: Molly Hopper Sandrof
    Age: 28
    Gig: Director, Talent and Staff Development at Eastern Standard, Island Creek Oyster Bar, The Hawthorne, Row 34

    Service can make or break a dining experience, and Garret Harker’s growing group of restaurants scores with our surveyors in that area. That’s certainly thanks in part to Sandrof, the star-maker who marries her degree in communications with a passion for hospitality to identify and develop the top talent. Appropriately enough, Sandrof started off as an Eastern Standard host, the role that sets the tone as soon as guests walk through the door. She climbed through floor and marketing management positions to get to her current gig, and along the way used her gift for discernment to run Eastern Standard’s lauded cheese program, sourcing the best of the best and educating the staff.

    Side Dish
    • Sandrof is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Great Britain, to which she owes her “strict allegiance to the real football (soccer) and dry British humor.”
    • For three consecutive years, Sandrof has judged the regional cheese competition at Springfield’s Big E, a job that required tasting about 140 cheeses - in one day!

  • Name: Michael Serpa
    Age: 28
    Gig: Executive Chef at Neptune Oyster

    At North End seafood icon Neptune Oyster, throngs of diners line up around the block for a taste of what was deemed the city’s top-rated food in our 2014 Boston Restaurants Survey. With Serpa at the helm, it’s no wonder. He hails from a family of Cuban chefs and started off working summers at his father’s restaurant in Miami. Even in high school, he was working nights in his Pennsylvania hometown. After attending the Culinary Institute of America, he landed at Todd English’s flagship Olives locations in New York and Charlestown. But Serpa has been with Neptune since 2008 and instrumental to elevating its reputation as a top-notch destination for raw bar eats and classic and contemporary seafood. There are plenty of fish in the sea - but only one Serpa.

    Side Dish
    • He might spend his professional life working with seafood, but in his off-time you’ll find Serpa spinning his wheels on land: he’s recently taken up cycling.
    • An exec-chef role at a top-rated restaurant isn’t the only thing Serpa hooked at Neptune Oyster. He also met his wife there.

  • Name: Tyler Sundet
    Age: 29
    Gig: Sous-Chef at Hungry Mother and Co-owner of State Park

    Sundet has seen it all. He started off in the restaurant industry at just 13 years old, washing dishes in the small town of Volga, SD. Then came culinary school in San Francisco and four years of restaurant toil in Seattle, where he met his now wife; after that, he decided to move east, to work everywhere from a Cape Cod fry shack to a Maine goat dairy. But it’s in his current role, alongside Hungry Mother and State Park chef Barry Maiden, where he says he’s learned the most. And it’s where we’ve been lucky enough to experience the enthusiasm and verve that Sundet brings to Southern-inspired cuisine. “He’s a ball of energy and amazingly dedicated,” praises co-owner Rachel Miller Munzer. We’re hungry to see what he does next.  

    Side Dish
    • At age 16, Sundet placed third in the Future Farmers of America’s South Dakota milk-tasting competition.
    • Plenty of chefs have cool tattoos, but we’re kind of in love with Sundet’s ink: an image of the Muppets’ Swedish Chef slicing and cooking Kermit the Frog.

  • Name: Adie Sprague
    Age: 28
    Gig: Head Baker and General Manager at Treat Cupcake Bar

    Sprague, a runner-up on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, spent six years decorating cakes for some of Boston's most well-regarded bakeries before jumping in with Treat Cupcake bar as it launched, developing its identity in the crowded cupcake market, overseeing all recipe creation and production, and managing the storefronts - both at Treat’s original Needham location and its new Chestnut Hill shop. She’s traveled quite a different path from her days studying art, sculpture and architecture in school - turns out her true passion was building with flour and frosting rather than brick and mortar.

    Side Dish
    • Don’t be fooled by the cupcakes. Sprague is a tough cookie who loves to work out and competes in famously butt-kicking CrossFit.
    • She once spent three months living on a Native American reservation.

  • Name: Bryanna Lee Tebbetts
    Age: 24
    Gig: General Manager at BRINE

    Over the last two years, Johnson and Wales grad Tebbetts has been crucial to the expansion of Caswell Restaurant Group, multitasking like a madwoman but always keeping her cool. She was instrumental to the relocation of Ceia Kitchen + Bar to its expanded three-floor format and new digs, led the execution of off-site events (from weddings to a sell-out dinner at James Beard House), and opened Caswell’s second restaurant, BRINE, to rave reviews. Now she oversees 20 employees and a $1.5 million annual P&L, while still finding ways to leverage her talents for the community - like launching Cancer Shucks, BRINE’s first annual fundraiser that sent $21,000 to Pan-Mass Challenge. We’d say she’s a star hospitality exec in the making, but she’s already burning pretty bright.

    Side Dish
    • Bryanna arrived to BRINE as a longtime oyster shucker from her family’s fifth-generation seafood business (Savage Seafood in Rowley).
    • From the dining-room floor to the field: each spring “Coach” Tebbetts heads to Newburyport High School to help coach the girl’s varsity lacrosse team.

  • Name: Brian Young
    Age: 28
    Gig: Chef de Cuisine at Post 390

    Young is, well, young. But he’s already carving out quite a name for himself, especially for this commitment to the nose-to-tail practice, butchering and charcuterie. Born in Texas and raised in Nashville, he began his cooking career at BB King’s Kitchen, slinging soul food when he wasn’t on stage with his band. Next came the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont and California’s Post Ranch Inn. At Cambridge’s Harvest, he finessed his farm-to-table approach before moving on to become executive chef at Citizen Public House & Oyster Bar, where his pig roasts became infamous. Now the pork guru oversees the Tavern Menu at Post 390, dishing out the likes of beef tongue pastrami, porchetta di testa and his weekly-rotating “Brambly Pig Plate.”

    Side Dish
    • Young admits he’s a “huge Lord of the Rings nerd” and has named all his pets after characters, including his current dog Sam, short for hobbit Samwise Gamgee.
    • He’s also a history buff, and first moved to Boston because he was fascinated by Revolutionary War-era history.

  /  

Places Mentioned

The Hawthorne

Bar • Fenway/Kenmore

Atmo.26 Decor26 Service25 CostM
 
 
 
Death + Company

Bar • East Village

Atmo.23 Decor22 Service19 CostE
 
 
 
Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
Rialto Restaurant

Italian • Cambridge

Food25 Decor24 Service24 Cost$58
 
 
 
Union Square Cafe

Union Square

Food27 Decor23 Service26 Cost$72
 
 
 
Gramercy Tavern

American • Flatiron

Food28 Decor26 Service27 Cost$120
 
 
 
Craigie On Main

French • Cambridge

Food28 Decor24 Service26 Cost$72
 
 
 
il Casale BELMONT

Italian • Belmont

Food25 Decor23 Service23 Cost$49
 
 
 
Ceia Kitchen + Bar

Mediterranean • Newburyport

Food27 Decor27 Service28 CostM
 
 
 
Area Four

American • Cambridge

Food24 Decor22 Service22 Cost$25
 
 
 
Vidalia

Southern American • White House/World Bank

Food26 Decor24 Service25 Cost$63
 
 
 
L'Espalier

French • Back Bay

Food28 Decor27 Service27 Cost$97
 
 
 
The Raines Law Room

Cocktail Bar • Flatiron

Atmo.26 Decor26 Service22 CostE
 
 
 
City Table

American • Back Bay

Food23 Decor22 Service23 Cost$35
 
 
 
The Estate

Night Club • Theater District

Atmo.21 Decor21 Service17 CostE
 
 
 
Top of the Hub

American • Back Bay

Food22 Decor27 Service24 Cost$50
 
 
 
jm Curley

American • Downtown

Food23 Decor21 Service23 Cost$31
 
 
 
Bondir Restaurant

American • Cambridge

Food27 Decor24 Service25 Cost$58
 
 
 
Neptune Oyster

Seafood • North End

Food28 Decor23 Service24 Cost$43
 
 
 
Menton

French • Seaport District

Food28 Decor27 Service29 Cost$141
 
 
 
T.W. Food

French • Cambridge

Food26 Decor23 Service26 Cost$57
 
 
 
Hungry Mother

American • Cambridge

Food27 Decor23 Service25 Cost$46
 
 
 
Strip-T's Restaurant

American • Watertown

Food26 Decor15 Service24 Cost$29
 
 
 
Post 390

American • Back Bay

Food22 Decor25 Service22 Cost$41
 
 
 
The Regal Beagle

American • Brookline

Food23 Decor21 Service23 Cost$27
 
 
 
Russell House Tavern

American • Cambridge

Food22 Decor21 Service19 Cost$30
 
 
 
No.9 Park

Beacon Hill

Food28 Decor26 Service27 Cost$79
 
 
 
The Dogwood

American • Jamaica Plain

Food23 Decor21 Service22 Cost$21
 
 
 
Bronwyn

European • Somerville

Food- Decor- Service- CostE
 
 
 
B&G Oysters

Seafood • South End

Food27 Decor22 Service24 Cost$47
 
 
 
Le Bernardin

Seafood • Midtown

Food29 Decor28 Service28 Cost$169
 
 
 
Boma Restaurant + Bar

American • South End

Food- Decor- Service- CostE
 
 
 
Eastern Standard Bar

Bar • Fenway/Kenmore

Atmo.27 Decor26 Service25 Cost 
 
 
 
Food22 Decor25 Service22 Cost$37
 
 
 
Boston Chops

Steakhouse • South End

Food- Decor- Service- CostE
 
 
 
BRINE Oyster • Crudo • Chops

American • Newburyport

Food- Decor- Service- CostVE
 
 
 
Forum

Fine Dining • Back Bay

Food20 Decor21 Service22 Cost$34
 
 
 
The Sinclair

Bar And Grill • Cambridge

Atmo.- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
Artisan Bistro

American • Theater District

Food22 Decor22 Service22 Cost$29
 
 
 
Foundry On Elm

American • Somerville

Food21 Decor22 Service20 Cost$32
 
 
 
Citizen Public House & Oyster Bar

Oyster Bar • Fenway/Kenmore

Food25 Decor23 Service23 Cost$32
 
 
 
Canary Square

American • Jamaica Plain

Food20 Decor23 Service21 Cost$23
 
 
 
Deuxave

American • Back Bay

Food26 Decor25 Service25 Cost$62
 
 
 
Gaslight

South End

Food24 Decor25 Service23 Cost$38
 
 
 
 
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