Chef Ming Tsai was raised in Dayton, Ohio, where he spent hours cooking alongside his mother and father at their family-owned restaurant, Mandarin Kitchen. His love of cooking (and eating) great food was ignited in these early years; he also gained valuable experience in front and back of the house. Tsai headed east to attend school at Phillips Academy Andover. From there, he continued to Yale University, earning his degree in Mechanical Engineering. Tsai spent his sophomore summer at Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris. After graduating from Yale, he worked in kitchens around the globe. He trained under renowned Pastry Chef Pierre Herme in Paris and in Osaka with Sushi Master Kobayashi. Upon his return to the United States, he enrolled in graduate school at Cornell University, earning a Master’s degree in Hotel Administration and Hospitality Marketing, where he continued to learn varied styles of cuisine, holding positions in both front and back of the house at establishments in Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco and Santa Fe.
In 1998, Tsai opened Blue Ginger in Wellesley, Massachusetts and immediately impressed diners from Boston and beyond with the restaurant’s innovative East-West cuisine. In its first year, Blue Ginger received 3 stars from the Boston Globe, was named Best New Restaurant by Boston Magazine, was nominated by the James Beard Foundation as Best New Restaurant 1998, and Esquire named him Chef of the Year 1998. The James Beard Foundation crowned him 2002 Best Chef Northeast and, since 2002, the Zagat Restaurant Guide has rated Blue Ginger the 2nd Most Popular Boston Restaurant. In 2007, Blue Ginger received the prestigious Ivy Award from Restaurants & Institutions, for its consistent achievement in meeting the highest standards for food, hospitality and service.
In celebration of its 10-year anniversary, Blue Ginger was revitalized with a Rockwell Group-designed addition, doubling its size. Enhancements include three private dining rooms accommodating everything from business meetings to bar mitzvahs and a beautiful 40-seat, walk-in only lounge with a 10-stool bar. The lounge menu is an Asian tapas menu featuring Ming’s Bings, his take on the classic Asian street food xiar bing. The newly expanded Blue Ginger opened in May 2008.
Tsai is a national spokesperson for the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), working to further education and research on food allergies. He is proud to have developed the Food Allergy Reference Book, first used at Blue Ginger, a pioneering system that creates safeguards to help food-allergic people dine safely. He has worked with Massachusetts Legislature to help write Bill S136, which will require local restaurants to comply with specific food allergy awareness guidelines.
Tsai is currently the host and executive producer of the public television cooking show, Simply Ming. His video podcasts, the first of their kind, feature tutorials on everything from filleting fish to food allergy basics. Tsai began cooking for television audiences on the Food Network, where he was the 1998 Emmy Award-Winning host of East Meets West with Ming Tsai. Ming’s Quest, his popular cooking adventure series, also aired on Food Network. In the summer of 2008, Tsai traveled to the Beijing Olympics with NBC’s Today show to provide viewers with insight into food customs and traditions that define his Chinese heritage. In addition to television, Tsai is the author of three cookbooks: Blue Ginger: East Meets West Cooking with Ming Tsai, Simply Ming, and Ming’s Master Recipes.
In addition to Blue Ginger, television and print endeavors, Tsai is also a prolific designer and creator of various products. For the past decade, he has used Kyocera Advanced Ceramic cutting tools. His Blue Ginger line of East-West meal solutions launched in Target and SuperTarget stores nationwide in 2000 and has continued to expand. He co-designs, with Tru Bamboo, an eco-friendly line of bamboo cutting boards and serveware. The sushi boards, satay plates and various cutting boards are available at grocery and home stores across the US. He is a founding member of Chefs For Humanity and a proud member of Common Threads, the Harvard School of Public Health’s Nutrition Roundtable, Big Brothers Big Sisters, The Cam Neely Foundation, Squashbusters, and the Denis Leary Firefighters Foundation.