Chef Tiffani Faison of Sweet Cheeks and Tiger Mama in Boston has made a name for herself nationwide for her dynamic personality, fierce work ethic and distinct ability to create restaurants that are warm, creative, and instantly loveable.
Tiffani began her career working under such renowned chefs as Daniel Boulud, Alain Ducasse, Todd English and Tony Maws. In 2006, early into her career, she was cast on the very first season of Bravo’s Top Chef, and placed as runner-up. From there, she worked in prestigious kitchens in Nantucket, New Orleans, Los Angeles, and San Francisco before returning to Boston in 2010 to become Executive Chef of Southern Italian restaurant, Rocca Kitchen & Bar. After transforming Rocca into a critically acclaimed dining destination with a three star review from The Boston Globe, Tiffani set her sights on creating her own restaurant.
She opened Sweet Cheeks Q in 2011 during the rebirth of Boston’s Fenway neighborhood. Drawing inspiration from her love of Southern barbecue and extensive travels in Texas, Sweet Cheeks became an instant hit for its laidback Southern charm and addictive offerings: Berkshire Pulled Pork, Great Northern Brisket, Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Biscuits with Honey Butter. Shortly after opening, Sweet Cheeks garnered a three-star review from The Boston Globe and from 2012 – 2016 it has since been awarded “Boston’s Best Barbecue” for five straight years by Boston magazine. Its Biscuits were deemed “Best Biscuits in the World” by Forbes.
Most importantly though, Tiffani has created a restaurant that is both a neighborhood gem and a dining destination. Sweet Cheeks uniquely attracts the young professionals moving into the neighborhood’s new developments at lighting speed, the Red Sox fans who come to Fenway religiously, and guests from near and far who are simply seeking the city’s best ‘cue.
In December 2015, Tiffani expanded on her culinary skills, creativity and business savvy with a new restaurant: Tiger Mama, found on the same block as Sweet Cheeks in Fenway. The seeds of Tiger Mama formed during Tiffani’s travels to Southeast Asia. “When done well, this is the most dynamic food in the world,” she says with her trademark intensity and passion. Tiger Mama offers a chic, tropical meets urban atmosphere and a menu that journeys through Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia, offering Tiffani’s unique stamps on timeless dishes like Papaya Salad, Crispy Duck, Bun Cha Hanoi and Cha Ca La Vong. The goal is not to aim for authenticity, but to playfully interpret traditional recipes while maintaining their intricate, crave-able flavors.
Opening the restaurant in Fenway, a neighborhood that is so rich in history yet so ripe with growth and an area that Tiffani has contributed to so greatly since opening Sweet Cheeks, gives Tiger Mama all the more meaning to Tiffani. From a chef who pours her heart and soul into each project, Tiger Mama sets a new benchmark, both for Tiffani’s career and Boston’s dining culture. In its April 19, 2016 review The Boston Globe agreed, calling Tiger Mama “a spectacular restaurant” with dishes that you’ll “take to the grave” and hospitality that “feels generous and natural.” For all of her culinary achievements, Boston magazine awarded Tiffani as “Best Chef: General Excellence” in its July 2016 “Best of Boston” issue. In November 2016, the Boston Business Journal named Tiffani to its 2016 Power 50 list, “The Game Changers,” celebrating individuals from Boston’s multiple industries and professions who are making a difference in their business communities.
Outside of the kitchen, in addition to placing runner-up in Top Chef Season One, Tiffani competed on Top Chef All-Stars Season Eight in 2010. She has made frequent appearances on NBC’s TODAY, PBS’s Simply Ming and was Host of “Tiffani’s Taste” and “Food Truck Friday” on NECN. She has been a contributing chef to numerous cookbooks and has been widely featured in such national outlets as SELF, Entertainment Weekly, People Magazine and Food & Wine.
In early 2018, Tiffani will open her third venture in Boston, Fool’s Errand.
Tiffani lives in Jamaica Plain with her wife and business partner Kelly Walsh and furry kids. She is a tireless advocate of LGBT human rights.
As a child growing up in Manchester, NH, Dee was always interested in cooking. She spent countless hours observing, learning, and working in the kitchen with her mother and grandmother. At 13, she was fortunate to witness for the first time a 6-foot wedding cake being made. Dee marveled at the care and attention to detail that went into the cake and she knew right there and then that she wanted to work with desserts. Little did she know she was about to embark on a successful career in Pastry Arts.
After graduating from high school, Dee immediately sought out her childhood dream by attending Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). She quickly expanded her interests and obtained her Associates Degree from in Culinary Arts from SNHU in 2002 with a concentration in Pastry Arts. Dee’s extremely proud of her time and achievement at the school and often returns there as an adjunct professor, teaching a course on International Baking.
During her first two years out of culinary school, Dee worked as a pastry cook at The Bedford Village Inn in Bedford, NH. In the summer of 2004, she decided to spend a summer on Nantucket where she worked at the renowned Topper’s restaurant at the Wauwinet Inn. She would spend three summers at Topper’s, first as Assistant Pastry Chef and then as the restaurant’s Executive Pasty Chef. During the off-seasons, Dee decided to challenge herself by taking on jobs working for prominent chefs: Daniel Boulud at Café Boulud in Palm Beach, Florida and Barbara Lynch at No. 9 Park in Boston. Her third winter off-island would prove to be a career-changing and full time move for the young pastry chef.
In the fall of 2006, Dee accepted a job from James Beard award-winning chef, owner, and TV personality Ming Tsai to become the Assistant Pastry Chef at his acclaimed Blue Ginger in Wellesley, MA. During her 11 years at Blue Ginger, she ultimately became the restaurant’s pastry chef and developed an incredible array of seasonal desserts to compliment Tsai’s dinner menus. It’s here where she met her future husband, Myron, who would later become the restaurant’s Chef de Cuisine.
At Blue Ginger, Dee also played a role within the local community by setting up pastry therapy programs at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute where she worked with children preparing fun desserts and cookies. During the holidays, Dee contributed to a local Gingerbread House Decorating Workshop at the nearby Holliston Public Schools.
In 2017, Dee joined chef and restaurateur Tiffani Faison as Pastry Chef of Faison’s award-winning restaurants, Tiger Mama and Sweet Cheeks Q. Since being a part of Faison’s team, she has developed such fun, seasonal desserts as Egg Nog Pie with Bourbon Cream, Malted Chocolate Mini Pies, Gingerbread Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, and Peppermint Red Velvet Whoopie Pie for Sweet Cheeks, while at Tiger Mama, she has created desserts such as Caramel Ginger Cake with Fresh Figs and a Brown Sugar Ginger sauce and Apple Cider Doughnuts with a Chinese Five Spice Sugar.
Dee lives in Medway, MA with her husband Myron and their French bulldog Tuckett.