Boston, MA 02116
Some things have changed since Hamersley’s opened, originally a few doors down the road on Tremont, in 1987. They now have fancier digs with more seating, a private dining room, and a brick patio for casual outdoor eating. The most important things, though, have stayed the same.
The French-American bistro menu is still award-winning. They still make gracious hospitality their first priority. They’re still the friendly place that welcomes walk-in diners. And you’ll still see chef-owner Gordon Hamersley most nights, sporting his trademark baseball cap, cooking up a storm in the open kitchen.
Say the word bistro in Boston these days and any number of restaurants come to mind. But Gordon Hamersley remembers back to when the upscale bistro trend really ignited here. He remembers because he was an instrumental force in getting the fire started.
Hamersley and his wife, Fiona, opened the original Hamersley's Bistro in a tiny storefront on Tremont Street in 1987. The South End was fast on its way to becoming a high-profile local dining destination, and Hamersley's passion for homey French-American cooking was destined to turn heads. In 1993, Hamersley's moved into a more spacious building next door to the Boston Center for the Arts, where the chef could be seen cooking nightly - decked out in his trademark baseball cap - in one of the city's first open kitchens.
A long list of accolades and awards soon followed, including the prestigious James Beard award for Best Chef in the Northeast (1995). That honor was no doubt a proud day for Boston University, since it was there that Hamersley began cooking, as a student, in the early ‘70s. His earliest professional training came at various French restaurants in the Boston area.
The East Coast can't claim all the credit. This would-be restaurateur's career-defining moment came in 1979, when he moved to Los Angeles and began cooking at the famed Ma Maison under Wolfgang Puck. It was there that Hamersley began to seriously hone his skills as a chef.
In 1982, he and Fiona moved to Nice, France, where they shopped and cooked by day and sampled restaurants by night. They realized that their favorite restaurants were the simple, family-owned bistros that elevated home cooking to something of an art form. In 1983, they moved back to Boston, where he worked as Sous Chef to Lydia Shire at the Bostonian Hotel before striking out on his own to open Hamersley's.
Even with the attention and success of his bistro over the years, Hamersley has kept his cooking simple and soulful. In both his traditional, French-inspired food and contemporary American bistro fare, he takes his cues from the freshest seasonal New England ingredients.
Hamersley is equally passionate about giving something back. He's a respected cooking teacher who works at Boston University in its Special Programs Division, and he teaches in many other cities around the country. Additionally, he serves on the board of advisors of the New England Culinary Institute and several environmental groups which help protect New England's vast natural resources.
And in his off hours? He and his family spend as much time as possible at their farm in Vermont, enjoying fishing, skiing, and cooking with the local bounty.
Hamersley's Bistro has received enthusiastic attention from magazines and newspapers like Gourmet, Food & Wine and The New York Times and is consistently ranked one of Boston's top restaurants by Zagat Survey's. In 1995, after being nominated five years in a row, Gordon was awarded the prestigious James Beard Award Best Chef Northeast. Hamersley has appeared with Julia Child on her television series Cooking with Master Chefs and is featured in the accompanying cookbook.
In 1997, Alison Arnett awarded Hamersley's Bistro The Boston Globe's coveted four-star rating. Now, Hamersley brings the spirit of Hamersley's Bistro to any home kitchen with his first cookbook, Bistro Cooking at Home, which has already received rave reviews. He has gathered more than one hundred fifty of his classic recipes and comments, "Bistro cooking is bold and fully flavored and yet it feels more like the best home cooking than restaurant fare. This collection of recipes works especially well for entertaining and demonstrates just how liberating bistro-style cooking can be."