Photo by Michael Piazza
In the span of seven years, Tiffani Faison has built a bit of a food empire. Stretching down a block of the revitalized Fenway neighborhood, Sweet Cheeks Q, Tiger Mama and Fool’s Errand are prominent players in the revitalized area that once simply served as the back end of Fenway Park, dotted with game-day parking lots, gas stations, car washes, and fast food. Each draws from its own source of inspiration: Southern barbecue, Southeast Asian cuisine and European standing tapas bars, respectively.
Faison is continually inspired, whether by an off-the-beaten-path restaurant or Asian market, an unmet need in the industry and travel. “The idea that travel is a master’s degree for a chef is 100% true.”
From “Top Chef” fame to working under renowned chefs, she took the leap from executive chef at Rocca to start her own ventures that she runs with wife and COO Kelly Walsh. But whether you’re running your own establishments or working for someone else, Faison holds that you have to be completely committed.
“My first and best advice is: Do the work. Do all the work. There are no shortcuts to being excellent. You are always going to be your best self when you’re fully versed in and understand what you do.”
Faison is an outspoken advocate of equity for women in the industry and is hopeful the #metoo movement will provide pathways for their advancement. “We have a lot of great, invisible women,” she says. Meanwhile, the culture that she and Walsh have built in in their restaurants is all about respect and visibility. “It’s not just that women are seen, it’s women of color, LGBTQ… Everyone matters.”
This story appeared in the Winter 2019 issue.
Lesley Mahoney is a South Dartmouth-based writer, editor and content strategist who loves a new food find, whether at a farmers market, restaurant or local purveyor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.