ACA Alumni Profiles

Michael Schlow

Alumnus: Michael Schlow
Class of: 1987
Studied: Culinary Arts

In publications from Food and Wine to Boston Magazine, GQ to Esquire, Michael Schlow has been celebrated as one of the country’s leading chefs.  The first year that Schlow became eligible for the James Beard Foundation Award competition, he won an Award of Excellence as “Best Chef in the Northeast.”  In 2001, Schlow’s Boston restaurant Radius was named one of “50 Best American Restaurants” by Gourmet magazine, and Boston Magazine named him among the “100 Most Influential People in Boston.” 

When Schlow and his two partners opened a second Boston restaurant, Via Matta, the well-known restaurant reviewer John Mariani called it the best Italian restaurant to ever open up in Boston.  The trio’s third restaurant in Boston, Great Bay, was named one of the “Best New Restaurants in America by Esquire magazine.

The most important thing I learned at the Academy:

Work hard and keep your eye on the prize. There is always someone waiting in the wings to take your place if you’re not careful.

TV exposure:

  • NBC’s “Today Show”
  • CBS’ “The Early Show” 
  • Guest chef on “Simply Ming,” the public television series featuring world-renowned Ming Tsai.  For info and recipe, visit http://www.ming.com/simplyming.
  • Guest chef for a cooking segment of public television’s “Victory Garden” series

Present job:

Executive chef and co-owner of three restaurants in downtown Boston, with 250 employees total:

  • Radius, serving modern French cuisine to about 100 guests a night
  • Via Matta, with authentic Italian cuisine, serving about 200 guests nightly
  • Great Bay, for new American cuisine.  Averages 200 guests

What I like best about my present job

  • The ability to cook very different foods simply by going from one of my three restaurants to another.
  • Watching my young cooks grow up to be good cooks.  I never tire of having chefs in other cities call me up and tell me how well one of my old cooks is doing in their restaurant; how their skills and habits are among the best in the kitchen....it is a great source of pride.

Memorable experiences in my career

  • Cooking on a regular basis for Julia Child
  • Writing my first cookbook, and seeing it published—“It’s About Time: Great Recipes for Everyday Life”
  • Winning the James Beard Foundation Award as Best Chef in the Northeast, in 2000, my first year of eligibility

Why I became a chef:

  • I was drawn by the interaction between restaurant and guest.  Being a chef gives you a nightly opportunity to have an impact on a someone  -- to make a difference in the everyday life of a guest or staff member.
  • I love a well run kitchen. When everything is going right, you feel like you just can't be beat.

Advice to an aspiring chef:

  • Learn from the best, even if that means working for less.
  • Don't be in a rush. Great chefs are patient, meticulous, committed, understanding and intense.  If you want to be one, then you need to realize that it takes time -- real time -- to perfect your craft.

What I do in my spare time:

Golf, listen to music, read, and, believe or not, cook

Important things I learned at the Academy that have helped me in my career:

  • Nothing can replace a good foundation.
  • The title of “Chef” means you are responsible to produce excellent chefs for future generations, as well as excellent food for your guests.