6 Boston-Based Food Artisans You Should Know

By Scott Kearnan  |  April 8, 2014

The Boston area is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to food artisans. But many of the same small-batch purveyors pop up again and again on local menus - so we scoured for some new and under-the-radar names that are doing great (and delicious) things.

  • Stone & Skillet

    Why We Love Them: Because you can keep your mass-produced English muffin. This Medford-based artisan makes one that is "rich, almost like a brioche," says chef fan Tom Borgia of Russell House Tavern. "But they still have all the air pockets, nooks and crannies that one wants in a solid English muffin."

    Signature Item: English muffin

    Where to Try: Russell House Tavern is now the largest account for Stone & Skillet. Borgia has always served his burger on an English muffin, rather than a standard bun, and last week he switched over to Stone & Skillet.

    Where to Buy: You can order them online here, or swing by Commonwealth in Cambridge, which sells them in the restaurant's annexed market.

  • Maitland Mountain Farm

    Why We Love Them: Because this small, 2.5-acre farm (filled with free-roaming chickens) in Salem proves that size isn't everything. In just a few seasons it's established a reputation for its impressively high yield of flowers and (often pickled) veggies.

    Signature Item: Holly's Spicy Pickles

    Where to Try: Blue Ox fries them up and serves them with grilled lemon, thyme aïoli and aged balsamic.

    Where to Buy: They're a regular vendor at several North Shore farmer's markets, including the Cape Ann Farmers Market, coming up next on April 19.

  • Jenny D's Bees

    Why We Love Them: Because it lights our living room and sets our palate alight. Jenny D's makes both beeswax candles and a fabulous sweet, sticky honey.

    Signature Item: Honey

    Where to Try: Ashmont Grill uses Jenny D's as the honey for its desserts, including its signature sticky toffee pudding (pictured). And the honeycomb is added to its cheese and charcuterie board.

    Where to Buy: Jenny D's buzzes among the South Shore farmer's-market scene, but is a regular at Marshfield Farmers Market.

  • Martha's Vineyard Sea Salt

    Why We Love Them: Because not all salt is created equal. Launched last year, Martha's Vineyard Sea Salt is the first to be made commercially on the island, which once had a small but mighty salt works industry, since the 1800s. That it's made by a husband-wife team (that uses an eco-friendly solar-powered evaporator to process each 275-gallon tank of Atlantic Ocean water, yielding 60 pounds of salt) just makes us fall in love with it more.

    Signature Item: Sea salt

    Where to Try: Edgartown's Detente is a big fan, using it to draw out the savory side of pickled strawberries and rhubarb, as a component of the fennel pollen cavatelli dish and using its large flakes to crisp and spice chicken skin.

    Where to Buy: It's available at area farmer's markets and some boutique Cape grocers, but it's easiest to order straight from the salty source.

  • Ice Haus Patissier

    Why We Love Them: The South Natick-based one-man business, owned by Cambridge School of Culinary Arts grad Sean Lynch, creates from-scratch flavors of gelato and sorbet with milk and cream from a local dairy and many fruits grown on-site. Future plans, says Lynch, include a high-end frozen dessert truck. We eagerly await.

    Signature Item: Sorbet

    Where to Try: Strega Waterfront and Strega Prime get their sorbet from Ice Haus, the former using it mainly for desserts, while the latter adds it to dishes like the East Coast oysters with caviar pictured here with a dollop of cucumber and jalapeño sorbet.

    Where to Buy: Look Out Farm, which opens for the season next month.

  • Alex's Ugly Sauce

    Why We Love Them: Because hot sauce is everywhere. But gourmet, small-batch hot sauce? Sorry, Frank's Red Hot. We're in love with this three-year-old taste bud tingler.

    Signature Item: The "Dragon" variety, a scorcher with a distinct blend of Thai dragon and habanero peppers.

    Where to Try: It's the favored hot sauce of Flat Top Johnny's, which uses it in the "Hot 'n Ugly," a burger also topped with pepper jack cheese and habanero relish.

    Where to Buy: City Feed in Jamaica Plain always has some on hand, but you can find a full market list here.