Ming Hao Tsai
March 29, 1964
Le Cordon Bleu
Ming Tsai (Chinese: 蔡明昊; pinyin: Cài Mínghào; born March 29, 1964) is an American restaurateur, television personality, and celebrity chef. Tsai's restaurants have focused on East-West fusion cuisine, and have included major stakes in Blue Ginger in Wellesley, Massachusetts (a Zagat and James Beard-recognized establishment) from 1998 to 2017, and Blue Dragon in the Fort Point Channel area of Boston (a Zagat-recognized tapas-style gastropub named in Esquire Magazine "Best New Restaurants 2013").
Tsai hosts Simply Ming, a cooking show featured on American Public Television, in its fifteenth season. Past shows Tsai hosted include Ming's Quest, a cooking show featured on the Fine Living Network, and "East Meets West". Tsai appeared in the Food Network cooking competition The Next Iron Chef (2010).
Early life and education
Ming Hao Tsai was born in Newport Beach, California on March 29, 1964, to Stephen, an engineer, and Iris, an eventual restaurateur, and was raised in Dayton, Ohio, where he attended The Miami Valley School. He assisted with the cooking as he was growing up in the restaurant owned by his mother, Mandarin Kitchen.
Tsai later attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, and then proceeded to study engineering and play varsity squash at Yale University. There, he was a member of the Phi chapter of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, and graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering in 1986. He received a master's degree in hotel administration and hospitality marketing from Cornell University in 1989. Either the summer after his sophomore or junior year at Yale, he attended culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. Tsai speaks four languages: English, Mandarin Chinese, French, and Spanish.
Tsai began his television career on chef Sara Moulton's cooking show Cooking Live while she had him fill in for one week for her in 1997. He hosted East Meets West on the Food Network from 1998 to 2003. He hosts Simply Ming food show on PBS.
In 2005, he was a judge on the PBS show Cooking Under Fire. Ming Tsai challenged Iron Chef Bobby Flay in the sixth episode of Season One of Iron Chef America in 2005; Tsai defeated Flay. Tsai was a contestant in The Next Iron Chef in 2010, where he was eliminated in the seventh week. Tsai appeared on an episode of Top Chef in 2014.
His other television appearances include participation in a Zoom Out on Zoom, a show distributed by PBS, in 2005 and on the PBS children's television show Arthur episode in 2005 about food allergies.
In 1998, Tsai and Polly Talbott opened his first restaurant, Blue Ginger, in Wellesley, Massachusetts. Blue Ginger, an Asian Fusian restaurant, has become a Zagat and James Beard-recognised establishment, winning many other regional awards as well. The year that the restaurant opened, Tsai was named "Chef of the Year" by Esquire Magazine. In March 30, 2010 Tsai opened Blue Ginger Noodle Bar, a mini-restaurant, inside Blue Ginger. In June 2017, Tsai closed Blue Ginger after 19 years of business. The reason was due to the end of a lease and Tsai's focus on a new fast-casual stir-fry concept restaurant, ChowStirs, scheduled to open in Boston during the early part of 2018.
Tsai opened Blue Dragon in 2013 in the Fort Point Channel area of Boston, an East-West tapas-style gastropub that has become a Zagat's recognized restaurant, which was named an Esquire Magazine "Best New Restaurant" in its opening year.
Awards and recognition
Tsai won the Daytime Emmy award in 1999, in the category Outstanding Service Show Host. Tsai's Blue Ginger Restaurant was inducted into the Culinary Hall of Fame in 2012. In 2000, Ming was on the 50 Most Beautiful People list published by People magazine.
Tsai and Polly Talbott have been married since April 1996. They have two sons, David and Henry. David Talbott, Tsai's squash coach at Yale, and Mark Talbott, a former World No. 1 hardball squash player, are Tsai's brothers-in-law. According to Henry Louis Gates's PBS program Finding Your Roots, Tsai is a 116th-generation descendant of Huang Di.
Tsai was a squash player at Yale, playing number two for the team, and he was named as an All-Ivy League player in 1986. While attending culinary school in France, Tsai played professionally on the European circuit. In 2004, Tsai played a celebrity squash match against professional golfer Brad Faxon at a Boston squash club. In 2005, he played against Mark Talbott in a charity match at a squash club in San Francisco.
One of Tsai's sons has food allergies, and Tsai has become a food allergy advocate who promotes awareness of food allergens. By 2005, he has been a national spokesman for the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) and in December 2012 was awarded a lifetime achievement award for his advocacy work from the organization, including his work on the state of Massachusetts food safety bill. Tsai is currently the President of the National Advisory Board for Family Reach, an organization that provides a financial lifeline to families fighting cancer.
- Henry Louis Gates Jr. (January 28, 2016). Finding Your Roots, Season 2: The Official Companion to the PBS Series. University of North Carolina Press. p. 191. ISBN 978-1-4696-2619-2.
- Burke, Bill (October 3, 2010). "Ming Tsai: Ready to mix his two favorite things, 'competition and food'". The Boston Herald. Archived from the original on November 18, 2018. Retrieved April 28, 2017 – via HighBeam Research.
- NIC3 Staff & Tsai, Ming (2016). "Ming Tsai: NIC3 Rival". The Next Iron Chef (NIC), Season 3. Retrieved January 14, 2017.
- Sadeghi, Yassmin (January 31, 2005). "Tsai '89 [sic.] Whips Up Success in Career as Chef". Yale Daily News. Retrieved January 14, 2017.
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- "Did you know: Famous chef, Ming Tsai, is a Deke". Delta Phi Chapter, University of Alberta. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
Famous chef, Ming Tsai, is a Deke. Brother Ming Tsai is a Yale Deke who has earned an Emmy award for this culinary influence on television. Ming's TV series, 'Simply Ming', is known for his fusion of eastern and western flavours...
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Sara Moulton: 'I like to say that he was discovered on my Food Network show, "Cooking Live," because he filled in for me for 1 week in 1997 when I was on vacation and then promptly got his own show, "East Meets West."'
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- Tsai, Ming (January 28, 2012). "Squash, a Growing Sport, and Nutritious, Too". The New York Times. Retrieved May 16, 2013.
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- Power, John (May 9, 2004). "Ming Tsai, He Cooks Up A Mean Hoison-Marinated Chicken With Napa Slaw". The Boston Globe. Retrieved April 28, 2017 – via HighBeam Research.[dead link]
- Beggy, Carol; Stephanie Stoughton (August 29, 2002). "Court Date for Venture Capitalist; Royal Treatment for Worcester Heroes". The Boston Globe. Retrieved April 28, 2017 – via HighBeam Research.[dead link]
- Sydney Lupkin (December 5, 2012). "Chef Ming Tsai Recalls Son's Struggle with Food Allergies". ABC News. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
- Weir, William (November 19, 2015). "Turkey Tips From an Alumnus Engineer: Q&A with Ming Tsai '86". Yale News. Retrieved January 14, 2017.