Karen Akunowicz is the Chef/Owner of Fox & the Knife and a 2018 James Beard Foundation Award winner. After graduating from the University of Massachusetts in 2001, Karen enrolled in the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts and earned her degree in 2004. That same year, she embarked on her professional culinary career as a cook making local farm-to-table fare at the beloved Ten Tables restaurant in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood. Thereafter, Karen accepted a position at restaurant Via Matta in Boston’s Back Bay and fell in love with Italian food. In 2008, she decided to fully immerse herself in Italian cuisine by living and cooking in Modena, Italy for a year, serving as the Chef at L’Avian Blu.
Returning home to Massachusetts, Karen went to work for James Beard Award-winning chef Ana Sortun as the Sous Chef at Oleana Restaurant in Cambridge in 2009. There she studied the powerful spice-driven cuisine of the Middle East and fully embraced the true farm-to-table approach that was a cornerstone of the restaurant.
In 2011, a new opportunity beckoned, and for seven years Karen led the kitchen at Myers+Chang as Executive Chef, creating powerful, spicy and craveable dishes, drawing inspiration from Chinese, Taiwanese, and Southeast Asian cuisine. During her tenure there she received both local and national praise, including a four-star review in The Boston Globe, and in 2016 was named Boston Magazine’s Best Chef in 2016.
In 2015, Karen became a fan favorite when she competed on Bravo’s Emmy nominated show “Top Chef,” and has also appeared on Food Network’s “Beat Bobby Flay.” In 2016, she was called one of the “21 Badass Women Changing the Food World” by Marie Claire magazine, and the following year she co-authored Myers+Chang at Home (Houghton Mifflin; 2017) with Chef Joanne Chang.
In 2018, Karen won the prestigious James Beard Foundation Award in the category of Best Chef: Northeast. She also made the momentous decision to strike out on her own to open a restaurant called Fox & the Knife (opening Winter 2019) which would allow her to indulge her love of creating Italian-inspired food and drink served in a warm and welcoming enoteca.
Karen writes lifestyle articles and recipes for Prowder.com and is proud to be a No Kid Hungry Chef, working with the organization Share our Strength to eradicate childhood hunger. She is currently at work on her second cookbook.