Chef Karen Akunowicz is a 2015, 2016 James Beard Nominee for Best Chef Northeast. She competed on Season 13 of Bravo TV’s Top Chef-California, and the Food Network’s "Beat Bobby Flay". She is currently the Executive Chef/Partner at Myers+Chang in Boston, MA.
A New Jersey native, Karen graduated from UMass Amherst and moved to Boston. For years, she studied the art of hospitality as she bartended and managed restaurants. Drawn to the heat, pressure and hustle of the kitchen she enrolled at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts.
She worked for Chef Michael Schlow at the Via Matta in Boston’s Back Bay and helped to open the eclectic Beehive restaurant.
Throwing herself though a cracked window of opportunity, she packed her knives and moved to Modena, Italy. She found a red bicycle, inspiration and renewed passion for preparing even the simplest of food. Armed with a fool’s artillery of very little Italian, and no place to live, she staged at a small osteria, made pasta with little old ladies, and finally became the Chef at L’Avion blu Enoteca.
On return to the States, Karen had the opportunity to work for Chef Ana Sortun as her Sous Chef at Oleana restaurant in Cambridge. Karen embraced the farm to table mentality and studied Sortun’s creative spice-driven cuisine.
A twist of fate landed her at UTEC Lowell, where created the Fresh Roots Culinary Program. She worked with Lowell’s most disengaged youth to teach them culinary skills and help them find employment. She was able to combine her passion for cooking and her desire to create community while teaching young people valuable job skills in a difficult economy.
As Executive Chef at Myers and Chang, Karen strives to create powerful, addictive, crave-able dishes that keep Myers+Chang at the top of everyone’s go to list. She is married to an awesome vegetarian, and lives in Roslindale with her tomato plants.
Myers and Chang is located in the historic South End of Boston. " It is a funky indie diner setting offering Chef/Owner Joanne Chang and Executive Chef Karen Akunowicz’s very personal interpretation of Chinese, Taiwanese, Thai, and Vietnamese specialties." The Myers and Chang Cookbook, co-written by Joanne Chang and Karen Akunowicz will be out in the Fall of 2017.