Businesses Highlighted in this Post
Want to create an itinerary from this post?
by Phyllis M. Cahaly, Director of Partnership Marketing, Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism
Do you happen to know what restaurant serves ‘the world’s best biscuits’? Lucky for us, Massachusetts, it’s Sweet Cheeks Q located at 1381 Boylston Street in Boston. This incredible honor was bestowed upon Sweet Cheeks Q by Forbes Magazine in 2012, just one year after Chef and Owner Tiffani Faison opened the doors to her first restaurant in Boston.
Tiffani loves Massachusetts and is a real Bay Stater! She loves the people and how Massachusetts is becoming more and more diverse and inclusive. She loves the foundation of the Commonwealth, who we are, what we stand for and how the state is ever changing and evolving. She believes in supporting local businesses and thanks all of her Massachusetts patrons for their pride in choosing local and and most of all, she loves the incredible culinary variety and seasonal offerings of Massachusetts. “The products that we harvest here are extraordinary,” said Chef Tiffani. “Our produce, fruits and vegetables are pristine and outstanding, our oyster farms are amazing, and our seafood is, frankly, the best in the world. I could go on and on about how much I love this state; our bounties, our intellectual gifts and especially our change of season.”
Tiffani, who has lived in California, simply loves the change of seasons in Massachusetts and especially the beauty of this particular season as summer yields into a vibrant fall. While she loves the simplicity of munching all summer long on vine-ripe tomatoes sprinkled with just sea salt or chomping into juicy peaches, she now yearns to return to the line and fire up her technical skills once again. She’s eager to start working with ingredients that lovingly need coaxing, brazing, simmering, and cooking like squash and gourds; to start roasting stock, tons of meats and veggies; to create heartier meals that warm the body and soul.
Speaking of soul, or Honey Buttered Soul as featured on Sweet Cheeks Q hoodies, Tiffani’s compassion for her staff, her patrons and all of mankind (including her adorable rescue dog, Ernie!) is admirable. She exudes a genuine thoughtfulness towards others not only in the way she treats and trains her staff but also in how she acknowledges her kitchen staff. If you’ve seen her menu, you’ll have noticed that a 5% “kitchen appreciation fee” is applied to each patron’s check which goes directly to her back-of-the-house staff. That said, in typical caring and thoughtful Tiffani manner, that fee is optional to patrons and will be removed upon request.
Tiffani sees everything from both sides and strives to please with her remarkable hospitality and personality. Her restaurants like Tenderoni’s, Dive Bar, Fool’s Errand, Bubble Bath and of course, Sweet Cheeks Q are approachable, fun, playful, and snack-y. She feels that going out to dinner should never be a chore, “I want my restaurants and rooms to be a place where people can have fun and be exactly who they are,” said Tiffani, “Fun is a really important element when we think about the personality of each restaurant and its culinary concept. We build what we think should be the next incarnation and like raising a child, each restaurant tells you what it needs.”
Tiffani’s company, Big Heart Hospitality, is true to its word; she welcomes a come-as-you-are, be-who-you-are, eat-what-you-like operation. She is a role model in the restaurant industry, an inspiration to young chefs everywhere and to the LGBTQIA+ community. She finds her passion and joy not only in the creativity of the cooking, but also in fostering staff. “You don’t have to go to culinary school to succeed in the restaurant business, you just have to work smart and find what’s next in your own career”, said Tiffani, “It’s a matter of building your life in the restaurant industry and I love helping and watching people find that for themselves”.
Even though Tiffani did not always aspire to be a chef, it was not on her “personal bingo card”, as she says, she has been in the restaurant and kitchen scene since she was 14 years old when she started making milkshakes in a 50s themed diner and working part-time while in school. It’s been the one constant in her life, and she has done it all! From back- of-the-house to front-of-the-house, busser, server, dishwasher, hostess, bartender, and cook which is where she found her passion. When Tiffani first moved to Boston, she worked for Chef Todd English and though she didn’t have formal training or a culinary degree, that didn’t stop her from jumping on the line, learning to cook and propelling herself into the Master Chef she is today.
She finds her joy and passion still in the art of cookery, said Tiffani, “Cooking evolves, the career draws you in and keeps you there, yet it is changing all the time. As a business owner, my job description entails everything like marketing, training staff and human resources, it’s everything but my deep joy is always in the cooking and the creativity. As much as I think I know, there’s so much more. The things that drew me into this field aren’t necessarily the things that keep me here, there’s always so much more! Once you think you know about cooking and food or think you’ve got something tackled, there’s so much more to learn and then it’s just the beginning again! Ingredients, especially here in Massachusetts, are gateways to different cultures and new techniques, leading to new recipes.”
New, or better said, unusual recipes were thrust upon Tiffani by the ‘randomizer’ during her recent appearances on Food Network’s Tournament of Champions hosted by Guy Fieri and in case you didn’t know, Chef Tiffani holds national status as the Season 3 Champion where she beat out 31 chefs for this distinction and was one of 16 chefs representing the East Coast. She is also a frequent judge on Food Network’s Chopped, Beat Bobby Flay and Supermarket Stakeout.
But let’s get back to those mouth-watering biscuits at Sweet Cheeks Q, shall we? The very first thing you should do when your friendly server arrives at your table is to order a ‘bucket o’ biscuits’, they are the world’s best, remember?! That is one huge moniker to carry around and in Chef Tiffani’s words, “It really scared me at first, I thought, how do we keep up with this, but it has become a lesson in consistency which is as important as creativity and excellence in restaurants. It’s my job to be sure that every single person who comes in has the same exact biscuit every single time; that the technique is the same, that the flavor and taste is the same – that is the crown of this business; it’s a gift and a lesson to carry that signature.” Oh, did I mention the warm honey butter that comes with, ready to be slathered all over the biscuit?
Tiffani is one busy chef with a seemingly limitless amount of energy to go around. When the hour does call for some down time it’s typically Netflix and some snacks that require zero clean up! And while it may be intimidating for those closest to her to cook or prepare a meal for her Tiffani says, “Honestly, I wouldn’t care what anyone prepared for me. It’s just a nice act of love to have someone cook for you, it’s an act of showing up for someone and being thoughtful of the intention of putting something together, even if it’s just a sandwich, that’s enough”.
Sausages Braised in Apple Cider
Chef Tiffani Faison
- 2 to 3 sausages of your choice (hot Italian, kielbasa, sweet Italian)
- 5 small white creamer potatoes
- 1 cup cipollini onions
- 4 cup each Braeburn apples, peeled, cored and sliced into large wedges
- 1/3 cup pitted prunes
- 3 ea sprigs rosemary
- 3 ea sprigs thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cups fresh apple cider
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- For sausages: Pre-boil the sausages until just cooked through, cool and pat dry.
- Pre-cook potatoes and onions, cool and dry.
- In a large roasting pan, heat butter until it begins to brown, add vegetable oil to keep butter from burning.
- Add sausages until just seared, remove and repeat the process with the potatoes, onions and apples.
- Return sausages to the roasting pan.
- Add the chicken stock, apple cider, prunes and herbs.
- Place the roasting pan in the oven for 25 minutes.
- Add freshly chopped chives, parsley and chervil.
- Serve with grilled Italian country bread.