Karen Akunowicz has had a crazy couple of years. In 2015, she starred in season 13 of Top Chef and was nominated for a James Beard Award for “Best Chef Northeast” for her work at Myers + Chang, a beloved Asian fusion haunt in Boston’s South End neighborhood. In 2016, Akunowicz was nominated for another Beard (again for “Best Chef Northeast”), and she also took up what is now her favorite hobby: powerlifting. (Cool, right?)
And though getting recognized for your work by both your peers and the public is exciting and validating, it can also be exhausting.
"I’m so tired," said Akunowicz. "It’s crazy. But I’m also so grateful. There are a lot of people who are successful, and who are working really hard for a really long time—I mean, our industry is brutal—and who are as talented, or more talented, and as hardworking who never get that recognition. Whatever stars aligned—and I know that a lot of it is your own hard work, and what you put into it—it was crazy. It’s still kind of crazy."
This year, Akunowicz has been busy working with her business partner, fellow Boston restaurant legend (and guest star on America’s Test Kitchen TV’s Sweet and Spicy Asian Specialties episode), Joanne Chang on the upcoming cookbook, Myers + Chang at Home.
Akunowicz stopped by the test kitchen last week to talk about the whirlwind. Here’s a taste of what she had to say.