The James Beard Awards are called the “Oscars of meals,” and this year, Cara Chigazola Tobin changed into named a semifinalist, for the second year in a row, for Best Chef Northeast. She’s the chef and co-owner of Honey Road, an eating place in Burlington. It truly has been serving eastern Mediterranean food for two years.
It can be hard to get a seat in the bustling restaurant, so Vermont Edition visited Honey Road before the dinner rush to talk to Chigazola Tobin about the substances she uses and her method of running her eating place.
From the open and brilliant foremost dining location, we returned at the back of the bar, down the steps to the kitchen, which she defined as a bit like a bomb shelter.
“Sometimes we’re down here, and we might not see any servers or something for a long term,” Chigazola Tobin jokes, “and we are like, ‘what is happening up there?’ It may be like the apocalypse up there, and we’d in no way know.”
In a small alcove after the principal, a part of the kitchen is the small pantry, where bulk substances are stored in plastic boxes on racks that attain the ceiling. There are several spices.
“Za’atar, sumac, cinnamon sticks, allspice — I mean nearly anything you could probably think of for spices, we’ve got,” she says.
Then she movements on to nuts: “We try to maintain all nuts reachable always.”
And then there may be dried fruit, “some other massive part of Middle Eastern food,” she says. “Dried cherries, dried figs, dried apricots, raisins, golden raisins, currants, barberries.”
And that listing would not even encompass all the dry goods, the several exceptional sorts of tahini, the pomegranate molasses, the date molasses, the grape molasses, orange water, rose water, the coconut milk, the piquillo peppers, in addition to lots of various spice mixes, like a mishmash, kibbe, and Cara (a mix made and named just for her). For a small pantry, it packs a big punch.
Chigazola Tobin grew up in California, consuming Mexican and South American meals. Her culinary journey had her hopping from east to west and lower back east again. She steeped herself in the cooking type at Honey Road while she became chef de cuisine at the famed Oleana restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
But Chigazola Tobin wanted to run her own eating place and move to Vermont, so in 2017 she and enterprise accomplice Allison Gibson opened Honey Road. It fast became a hit, earning a coveted semifinalist honor for Best New Restaurant from the James Beard Foundation in 2018. Chigazola Tobin became come on the lengthy list for Best Chef Northeast in 2018; this year’s semifinalist nod is her 2nd in a row.
“It’s remarkable interesting,” she says of the nomination. “I do not like to get my hopes up too much. But it changed into my listing of things that would be extremely good to have happened. I want to have that list. Not even things that I should do, just things that could be notable if they befell.”
Also, that list was striking out with the past due to chef Anthony Bourdain, who died in 2018. Chigazola Tobin in no way was given to check that one off the listing; however “weirdly sufficient,” she says, “being on public radio is on that list. Just announcing.”
The meals she serves at Honey Road are somewhat surprising to many Vermonters’ palates, and the menu comes with a thesaurus of terms like pide, halloumi, muhammara, fatoush, and labor. But although the names are probably new, Chigazola Tobin says the flavors of the Middle East and the Mediterranean combine properly with local Vermont produce and meat — and the cultural values also combination.
“For me, the parallel is that so much of this meal is primarily based on tradition and community,” she explains. “And virtually in Vermont and New England, you already know, we’ve got such excellent network here. … I want to be part of something and deliver returned to my community on this way, thru meals, and it simply felt virtually herbal to me.”
Chigazola Tobin wasn’t the most effective Vermonter whose work turned into highlighted by the James Beard Foundation in these 12 months: Deirdre Heekin becomes named a semifinalist inside the category of Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Producer for her farm and winery, La Garagista, in Bethel.