Since opening her first Flour Bakery in 2000, Joanne Chang has made Boston a little sweeter with her delectable desserts and buttery pastries, but the culinary mogul is always working on more treats for the masses. She’s currently focused on relocating the Breadquarters—Flour’s production kitchen and a hub for baking classes—from Allston to the Seaport’s Innovation and Design Center, opening her eighth Flour and penning her fifth cookbook, a “baking bible” of all her favorite recipes.
Chang hasn’t always been so busy in the kitchen. After working as a business consultant while operating a home catering business, Chang took her first industry job as a garde-manger cook. “The moment I stepped into a professional kitchen, I kind of knew that’s where I was meant to be,” Chang says. “There’s something about the energy of working in a kitchen and the immediacy of making something and then presenting it to somebody and having them enjoy it right then and there—it’s very direct and it’s really gratifying and satisfying.”
After stints at renowned eateries such as Rialto and Mistral, Chang set her sights on establishing her empire of Flours, taking a pit stop in 2007 to open Myers + Chang with husband and business partner Christopher Myers. In addition to her achievements in the kitchen, including the 2016 James Beard Outstanding Baker Award, Chang serves on the Culinary Panel of Lovin’ Spoonfuls—whose director created the idea while dining at Myers + Chang.
As for Chang, don’t expect her to slow down anytime soon. “We are hoping the moving of Breadquarters allows us opportunities to grow more Flours,” she says. “Maybe there’s some potential for another concept that could come out of having that amazing kitchen available to us.”
“The first year of Flour was incredibly challenging, and at the 10th month, I was ready to sell it. I couldn’t keep going and every day something would go wrong and I was working around the clock and it was just hard. My then-friend Christopher (who I started dating a few years later) gave me some advice that I’ve continued to use: Flour is supposed to make my life better, not worse. It sounds simple and easy, but at the time I was so caught up in everything that was wrong that I forgot the whole point: To do something I love and share it with as many people as I could. And I was digging myself into a hole going round and round and losing perspective. I refocused and learned that the most important thing I can do when I’m feeling beat up and discouraged is to take a step back, look at the big picture, ask myself if I’m focusing on the right things and power forward. This ‘refocus and gain perspective and hunker down and keep on going’ mentality that I learned about 17 years ago is the backbone of who I am today.”
INFLUENCERS: GEORGE FOREMAN III | TARA FOLEY | ELLIOT COHEN | JC TETREAULT | JOANNE CHANG | PEDRO ALONZO | AMAN ADVANI | KATHY ABBOTT | BRIDGETTE WALLACE | SUSAN RODGERSON