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Culinary whiz Nora Carey picked to develop Boston public food market

The woman leading the development of Boston’s public food market has worked on some of the most prestigious culinary events in the world, from the Bocuse d’Or chefs competition in Lyon, France, to the massive Epcot Food & Wine Festival in Orlando.

But Nora Carey says her vision for building a market along the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway is based on more personal experiences, such as perusing fresh produce at street markets around France, where she was first inspired to pursue a career in food.

“A market is for everybody and the quality should be impeccable,” said Carey, a Springfield native who studied at La Varenne cooking school in Paris. “We’re looking for nutrition, variety, and freshness. Those are the essential elements of having a good market.”


Carey was hired last month to be executive director of the nonprofit Boston Public Market Association, designated by the state to establish the food market in a vacant building above the MBTA’s Haymarket Station. The market is slated to open in June 2014.

The job will require raising $11 million to develop an attractive market for shoppers and persuading the state’s best food producers to showcase their wares there. ­Directors of the public market ­association said Carey’s experience makes her an ideal person to spearhead the project, which has been more than a decade in the making.

“She has worked for some incredibly demanding individuals and companies and has performed to very high standards,” said Donald Wiest, the association’s president. “We are confident she will bring the attention to detail this project is going to require.”

Most recently, Carey worked as executive director of the Bocuse d’Or USA Foundation, a New York City nonprofit devoted to helping top American chefs prepare for the cooking competition. Based in ­Lyon, France, the Bocuse d’Or is a world championship of sorts for chefs who have five hours to prepare a fish platter and a meat platter from a specified weight and cut, with a minimum of three garnishes on each plate.


The United States has sent a representative to every competition since the inaugural event in 1987, but for 20 years it failed to gain a significant ranking among the 26 competing countries. That changed in 2009, when Carey began leading the Bocuse d’Or USA foundation under renowned chefs Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, and Jerome Bocuse.

That year, Timothy Hollingsworth from the French Laundry in California’s Napa Valley, placed sixth out of 26 competitors.

Carey, who also spent five years as director of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, said establishing the market in Boston is a similar quest to Bocuse d’Or.

“We’re trying to find the best producers,” she said, adding that such an effort doesn’t mean focusing only on established farms and food outlets in Massachusetts.

“This market will be an incubator for promising businesses that will get a start there and hopefully build a larger client base.”

The number and precise mix of vendors has not yet been determined, although the market is expected to feature fresh produce, meats and cheeses, fish caught in Massachusetts ­waters, and a range of specialty food products.

Casey Ross can be reached at