Ming Tsai: NIC3 Rival

Photo by: brad swonetz ©brad swonetz photography

brad swonetz, brad swonetz photography

Eliminated Week Seven

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 forged in these early years, while also gaining valuable experience in the front and back of the house. Ming headed east to attend school at Phillips Academy, Andover. From there he continued to Yale University, earning his degree in mechanical engineering. During this time, Ming spent his junior summer at Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris. After graduating from Yale, Ming 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, Ming enrolled in graduate school at Cornell University, earning a master's degree in hotel administration and hospitality marketing. Ming continued to learn varied styles of cuisine, holding positions in the front and back of the house at establishments in Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco and Santa Fe.

In 1998, Ming opened Blue Ginger in Wellesley, Mass., and immediately impressed diners from Boston and beyond with the restaurant's innovative East-West cuisine. In its first year, Blue Ginger received three 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 magazine honored Ming as "Chef of the Year" in 1998. The James Beard Foundation crowned Ming "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 "Ivy Award" from Restaurants & Institutions for its consistent achievement in meeting the highest standards for food, hospitality and service. In 2009, Ming and Blue Ginger won IFMA's Silver Palate Award in the Independent Restaurant Category recognizing overall excellence in the industry.

In 2008, Blue Ginger expanded with a feng shui-inspired addition doubling its size, creating three private dining rooms and the casual-chic Blue Ginger Lounge, serving an Asian tapas menu that features Ming's Bings: Ming's take on the classic Asian street food xiar bing, a cross between a dumpling and a slider.

Ming is a national spokesperson for the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), working to further education and research on food allergies. Ming is proud to have developed the Food Allergy Reference Book, a pioneering system (first used at Blue Ginger) that creates safeguards to help food-allergic people dine safely. For the past four years, he worked with the Massachusetts legislature to help write Bill S.2701, which was recently signed into law. This groundbreaking legislation, the first of its kind in the U.S., requires local restaurants to comply with specific food-allergy-awareness guidelines.

Ming is the host and executive producer of the public television cooking show SIMPLY MING. In 2009 the show received two Emmy nominations for "Outstanding Culinary Program" and "Outstanding Lifestyle/Culinary Host," and received two Bronze Tell Awards in the categories of "Lighting" and "Art Direction." His SIMPLY MING video podcasts, the first of their kind, feature tutorials on everything from filleting fish to food allergy basics (available on iTunes, Facebook and YouTube). Ming began cooking for television audiences on 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, Ming 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, Ming is the author of four cookbooks: East Meets West Cooking with Ming Tsai (Clarkson Potter, 1999), Simply Ming (Clarkson Potter, 2003), Ming's Master Recipes (Simply Ming, 2005) and Simply Ming One-Pot Meals in fall 2010.

In addition to Ming's restaurant, television and print endeavors, he's also a prolific designer and product developer. For the past decade, Ming 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 continually expanded. Ming co-designs with TruBamboo, an eco-friendly line of bamboo cutting boards and serve ware. The sushi boards, satay plates and various cutting boards are available at grocery and home stores across the U.S. In 2009, Ming teamed up with Kellogg's to create his Blue Ginger® Multi-Grain Brown Rice Chips, currently available at club stores across the nation.

Ming is a proud member of Common Threads, the Harvard School of Public Health's Nutrition Roundtable, Big Brothers Big Sisters, The Cam Neely Foundation and Squashbusters.

Next Up

Chef Nate Appleman's Culinary Q&A

We checked in with Chef Appleman, one of 10 rival chefs competing on The Next Iron Chef: Redemption, to find out his culinary icon, favorite seasonal ingredients, go-to potluck dish and more.

Chef Eric Greenspan's Culinary Q&A

We checked in with Chef Greenspan, one of 10 rival chefs competing on The Next Iron Chef: Redemption, to find out his culinary icon, favorite seasonal ingredients, go-to potluck dish and more.

Chef Duskie Estes' Culinary Q&A

We checked in with Chef Estes, one of 10 rival chefs competing on The Next Iron Chef: Redemption, to find out her culinary icon, favorite cookbook, go-to potluck dish and more.

Chef Alex Guarneschelli's Culinary Q&A

We checked in with Chef Guarnaschelli, one of 10 rival chefs competing on The Next Iron Chef: Redemption, to find out her favorite cookbook, must-have seasonal ingredients, go-to potluck dish and more.

Latest Stories