Whether you are in the mood for barbeque or Thai, Chef Tiffani Faison has you covered when visiting the Fenway area of Boston, Massachusetts. Sweet Cheeks allows this multi-talented chef to express her love for southern cooking while Tigar Mamma takes your palette to entirely different part of the world. North American Traveller chats with Chef Faison to discover some of her own favourite menu items, while we dish about the growing Fenway neighbourhood that has quickly become a culinary hub.
North American Traveller: Chef, if my family were to visit Boston both your restaurants would have us covered. My husband and youngest would be enjoying the ribs at Sweet Cheeks while my teen and I would be feasting on Thai food at Tiger Mama. Tell me about your go to menu items from both restaurants?
Chef Tiffani Faison: Let’s start with Tiger Mama. For me the dishes I like the most are the ones that bring me back to eating on a street in Thailand. Tiger Pow (which is Pad Gra Pow on the menu) is ground chicken with tons of chilis plated with a fried egg on top. In my career there are things that I eat that I can get sick of, things that I just cannot eat anymore. This is not one of them. This is the dish that shines for me, this is the dish I crave more than anything. I also really enjoy the papaya salad. It is the most authentic salad I have had here. It reminds me of what I can get on the street in Thailand. These are the real craveable things I like to go back to again and again.
When it comes to Sweet Cheeks we are famous for our biscuits. Corn bread is a big deal up there. When I decided to do biscuits instead of corn bread people thought I was crazy. They thought there would be a revolt because I am doing biscuits. I figured if people hate it we will figure out something else. But we never had to. I see them everyday coming out of the oven, I tear them open. I try not to eat them every day but it’s hard. There are few things in terms of my recipes that I don’t pick apart in terms of thinking I can always do better. Aside from having one in twenty-five biscuits fall over, I don’t know if they can actually be better, they are astounding.
Also, our brisket at Sweet Cheeks is top notch. We use quality beef of course and we have developed techniques over the years to keep the lean part and the fattier part both moist. We have worked really hard to create what we feel is an amazing brisket. I also love black eyed peas. I love eating them, they are what I grew up with. And eating them brings me right back to my mom’s house.
North American Traveller: You are making me hungry. That all sounds fantastic. Tell me Chef, where do you love to eat in Boston, particularly in the Fenway area?
Chef Tiffani Faison: I tend to sneak out of the neighbourhood so that I am not readily available. I know that sounds awful. But there are some great places opening up that I quite enjoy. Eventide, which is a seafood place. They are originally from Portland Maine but have opened up a casual version of what they do in Portland here in Fenway. They only opened a little while ago. It’s great to have them down the street.
Also, Tasty Burger is a kickass great american burger shop. I tend to eat there more than I care to talk about. Some places tend to do well at first and then get comfortable with what they are doing but Tasty Burger have just gotten better and better over the years.
North American Traveller: How has the area in Fenway changed over the years. It seems to be turning into a bubbling culinary hub. Tell me a little more about that?
Chef Tiffani Faison: It has changed significantly over the last five to six years. The building we are in was built almost 10 years ago now. I think the thought process around this Neighbourhood was that it was a neighbourhood on its way to another neighbourhood. I think everyone thought that this would be the last stop on the way home kind of thing. That is not at all what it has turned out to be. You think it’s going to be one thing and then it shows you what it needs to be. It is much more urban, much more funky, much more kind of experimental which for us is kind of exciting.
I cannot even explain how fast it is changing. Like literally, if I go way for a few days and come back it is different. Like a building is complete or the scaffolding is down. Or another building is going up. It is literally that rapid. It’s incredible. These plans have all been in the works for the last 15 years. We are lucky to be in this moment where everything coming together. It is an exciting time for sure.
North American Traveller: When you find time to travel where are your favourite places to explore in terms of having your own culinary adventure?
Chef Tiffani Faison: I will literally go anywhere. But one of our favourite places is Thailand. The irony is that we have not been able to get back in the last few years because we opened two restaurants, one of them being Thai. I love Bangkok, I could live there for sure. I am always inspired by the culture and kindness of the people. London as well. It’s an eminently cool city. From one market to another. To really great shops, to the burgeoning culinary scene. Well, it’s not burgeoning anymore it’s there. I have had extraordinary meals in London. And some of the best Indian food I have ever had as well.