A Portland Press Herald article by food editor Peggy Grodinsky about the bond between the chef and dishwasher at Back Bay Grill will appear in this year’s “Best of Food Writing” anthology.

For 18 years, the anthology has featured the best of each year’s food writing, including pieces from notable figures like Anthony Bourdain, Alice Waters, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt and Besha Rodell. The 2017 edition includes 50 essays from journalists, authors, chefs and bloggers.

Grodinsky’s essay, “The chef, the dishwasher and a bond that keeps Back Bay Grill in sync,” highlights the unique bond between Larry Matthews Jr., the chef-owner of Back Bay Grill in Portland, and William “Franco” Tucker, the dishwasher who has worked with him for two decades. Grodinsky explores each man’s background and the relationship they forged while working in the same kitchen.

Grodinsky first heard about Tucker, the dishwasher, during a casual conversation she had with Matthews when she was eating at Back Bay Grill in which she happened to ask him about the employee he’d worked with the longest. Knowing that dishwashers rarely stay in restaurants for long, she was surprised by Matthews’ answer.

“I knew from the moment Larry said ‘the dishwasher’ that I had the germ of a good story,” Grodisnky said. “The idea appealed to me strongly for another reason, too: I am tired of reading 24-7 about celebrity chefs. Just like it takes a team to put together a newspaper, it takes a team to run a good restaurant. The idea of looking in concert at the top member of the team, the owner/executive chef, and the person who is considered the lowliest member, the dishwasher, really spoke to me.”

Grodinsky joined the staff of the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram in 2014. She has been writing about food for more than 20 years.

Best of Food Writing 2017 is edited by Holly Hughes, a New York City-based writer and author of “Frommer’s 500 Places for Food and Wine Lovers.” The anthology will be released Oct. 24.


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