Tony Maws’s recently expired passport easily falls open to the page covered with a French visa. “I was living and working there,” says the chef-proprietor of Craigie on Main in Cambridge. “I had a six-month work visa, so I was like a French citizen. I paid taxes and had vacation and everything, ” he recalls of the time he spent in the kitchen of the one-star Michelin restaurant, Larivoire, about five miles upriver from Lyon center.
These days, the demands of running his own restaurant tend to cut into his travel time, but Maws is working on filling out the pages of his current passport. He has fond memories of a trip to Marrakech and trekking into the Atlas Mountains. He and wife Karolyn spent their honeymoon in St. Martin (the French side, of course) and have vacationed in the Basque Country of Spain.
“We loved it,” he recalls. “San Sebastian is special and we did a lot of driving in the surrounding area.” Maws admits to being flummoxed by Basque signage with its preponderance of T’s and X’s. “It was awesome. You can’t help but get lost. You end up all of a sudden in a field and there are sheep all around. And you see a cathedral over there . . . and you’re, like . . . well, let’s find lunch.”
The couple’s son, Charlie, 4, is already a seasoned traveler. He has accompanied his parents on vacation in Negril, Jamaica, and joined them in marveling over fiords when his father was tapped as a guest chef for the Norwegian Cruise Line.
But France still has its grip on the Maws clan. “My brother lives in London. We fly in and visit, go to the countryside, and then Chunnel it to Paris,” Maws says. He’s fond of the French capital in winter. “It forces you to sit inside and have foie gras . . . and eat,” he says.
Food nearly always figures into Maws’s travel choices. “I am a chef and this is my job,” he says. “But this became my job because I’m madly in love with cooking and food and culture. I can’t imagine going to a place on vacation that had bad food. I just couldn’t do it. I would go crazy.”