WellesleyWeston Magazine

WINTER 2014/2015

Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

Issue link: https://wellesleywestonmagazine.epubxp.com/i/410492

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Page 197 of 227

The Juniper team — Owner, Dave Becker; Executive Chef, Tim Fichera; and General Manager, Matthew Kaplan — could have repli- cated the beloved Italian fare served at Sweet Basil, but predictable and safe are not what motivates these men. Many of the Sweet Basil staff have worked together for years, and Dave realized that providing opportunities for growth and creativity were paramount to attracting and retaining talented people. Tim explains his decision to leave his head chef job at Sweet Basil to assume the role at Juniper: "After making likely about 7,000 of our signature rosemary chicken dishes and per- fecting the sauce over several years, it was time for me to recharge." Tim's menu at Juniper includes smoked eggplant baba ghanoush, pickled beet hummus, and red pepper muhammara spreads. Fattoush salad, crispy oysters, and lamb tartare. Seafood couscous, chicken and pork souvlaki, quinoa falafel, and grilled skirt steak flavored with a Middle Eastern baharat spice mixture. And for dessert, pecan bourbon baklava — a twist between pecan pie and traditional baklava — and Greek revani semolina cake soaked in orange blossom syrup with a dollop of whipped cream. When asked to choose their favorite main dish, Dave, Tim, and Matt unanimously selected the grilled swordfish marinated with coriander and parsley and prepared with chickpea panisse, roasted beet-orange salad, and the North African chile-paste harissa-infused aioli sauce. Creative collaboration Tim and Dave have known each other since high school days in Newburyport, Massachusetts. Both started out in the restaurant business as dishwashers, work- ing their way up to head chefs, and have remained friends ever since. In fact it was Dave, at the time head chef at Sweet Basil, who introduced Tim to the sous chefs at Ming Tsai's acclaimed Blue Ginger restaurant where Tim landed a job. "I had used up my bag of tricks as head chef at a restau- rant in Newburyport, so I was ready to move on. I needed to work at a really awesome place where I could learn," explains Tim. A few years later, when Dave assumed ownership of Sweet Basil, he hired Tim from Blue Ginger to replace himself as executive chef at Sweet Basil. Dave was also instrumental in sparking Matthew's interest in the restaurant business. As a high school student from Needham, Matt worked in the kitchen at Sweet Basil and, during his junior year, even wrote a paper about Dave. Matt attended Boston University and earned a degree in hospitality administration. After graduation, he pursued "front of the house" restaurant responsibilities, including in positions at Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, a chain of boutique properties in the United States. Matt moved back to Boston from a Kimpton restaurant in Philadelphia, because, as he explains, "I could- n't pass up the opportunity to partner with my former boss to open a second restaurant." Dave and Matt work together closely, in fact so 196 W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | w i n t e r 2 0 1 4 / 2 0 1 5 local cuisine "a really awesome place" B E T H F U R M A N Dave Becker, Matthew Kaplan, and Tim Fichera

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