Boston ‘Top Chef’ contestant edging towards ‘Fan Favorite’ honors

Karen Akunowicz,Top Chef
Boston chef Karen Akunowicz is competing for the top spot on Bravo reality TV's "Top Chef." Photo by Matt Kurkowski.

The competition is coming down to the wire on Bravo’s reality TV series “Top Chef.” Though Boston’s own Karen Akunowicz fell just short of nabbing its culinary crown, her top drawer talent and vibrant personality allowed her to emerge as one of the show’s standout contestants.

And there’s one honor she may still be able to score.

Fans of Akunowicz—especially us locals who may know her best in her role as executive chef at the South End’s pan-Asian restaurant Myers + Chang—can still weigh in to the Bravo show by voting Akunowicz as “#TopChef Fan Favorite.”

Each week, viewers vote for one of the 17 “cheftestants” by going to Bravotv.com or texting their favorite chef’s name (ahem, that’s “Akunowicz”) to 27286. “Top Chef” show airs weekly on Bravo at 9 p.m. Thursdays, with the Fan Favorite winner crowned on March 17. (The awardee receives $10K gratis S. Pellegrino Sparkling Natural Mineral Water. Not too shabby!)

For a January/February 2016 profile, Boston Spirit magazine’s lifestyle editor Scott Kearnan interviewed Akunowicz, who also happens to be a 2015 finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef: Northeast Award—”the culinary equivalent of an Oscar nom,” noted Kearnan in his interview intro.

“Top Chef,” Akunowicz told Kearnan, “tested me in ways that I never would have expected. Not just in terms of the time constraints of challenges, but in terms of being outside your comfort zone. … I don’t know if anything other than this show could have made me realize how much I really lean on my support system: my spouse, my mother, my sister, my family, my community. I missed my community in Boston a great deal. It’s probably bad, but I live in this bubble. I mean, I work in the South End, I live in JP—my life is all-gay all of the time. I assume everyone is queer until proven otherwise! [Laughs] I like to think I’ve been a grateful person, but this really made me appreciate the people who have held me up and helped me get to where I am today.”