Boston’s Uncommon Chef Michael Schlow

by Victoria Abbott Riccardi SOURCE Boston Common

Celebrity chef and food aficionado Michael Schlow, who has appeared on numerous television programs including The Today Show and Top Chef Masters, will open a new, Latin American restaurant, Tico in Boston's Back Bay.

When Michael Schlow first came to town in 1995 to cook at Café Louis, he entered Boston’s food scene in its nascent stages. With the opening of Radius in 1999, he helped launch the vibrant dining that draws foodies from around the country. He still owns Radius and has gone on to open Via Matta and two Alta Stradas. Now he’s infusing high-end dining with some fun with the 2011 debut of Tico, a flip-flop casual Spanish/South Americaninfluenced lunch and dinner spot in the former Cottonwood Café space in Back Bay.

After his travels this summer to Mexico and Barcelona with friends like Mario Batali, to dine at world-class restaurants like Ferran Adrià’s El Bulli, Schlow realized you can be dead serious about creating great food, but the experience can also be fun rather than formal. He’s hoping to bring some of that spirit to his new spot. “I want Tico to feel like a bazaar,” he says. “Busy, obscure and whimsical—where nothing goes together but it all comes together.”


The Brooklyn-born chef also has other accomplishments under his belt—a cookbook; a consulting company, Good Essen (“good eating” in Yiddish); and TV spots on the Today show and Top Chef Masters. He got his start at a New Jersey restaurant, which, after he abandoned thoughts of playing pro baseball or becoming a veterinarian to racehorses, led to culinary school. He still loves the races, but you don’t want to talk baseball with him—he’s a Yankees fan.  

Expect touches of Mexican, Spanish, Central and South American flavors mixed in with American classics (think lobster and avocado tacos, spicy couscous with shrimp and a bacon cheeseburger) with plenty of booze. These days, Schlow counts his favorite ingredients du jour—cruciferous vegetables—among his muses. “I’m a real sucker for cauliflower, broccoli rabe and Brussels sprouts,” he says, noting that the latter—tossed with smoked bacon and jalapeños—will be on Tico’s menu.

After Tico, who knows? Schlow would like to write another book and perhaps finally open a burger joint. “And someday a gourmet diner,” he says. “And after that, maybe a pizzeria. Come to think of it, I’ve always wanted to do a seafood restaurant by the beach, too.”