Ming Tsai

Ming Hao Tsai (Chinese: 蔡明昊; pinyin: Cài Mínghào; born March 29, 1964) is an American restaurateur, television personality, celebrity chef, and a former professional squash player. 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").

Ming Tsai
Ming Hao Tsai

(1964-03-29) March 29, 1964 (age 56)
EducationYale University
Cornell University
Le Cordon Bleu
Spouse(s)Polly Talbott-Tsai
Children2 sons
Culinary career
Cooking styleFusion

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).[2][3]

Early life and educationEdit

Ming Hao Tsai was born in Newport Beach, California on March 29, 1964,[1] to Stephen, an engineer; and Iris, an eventual restaurateur;[4] and was raised in Dayton, Ohio,[5][4] where he attended The Miami Valley School.[6] Tsai's grandparents emigrated to Dayton from Taiwan after escaping China during the Cultural Revolution.[7] He assisted with the cooking as he was growing up in the restaurant owned by his mother, Mandarin Kitchen.[4] Tsai is uncle of Lauren Tsai.[8]

Tsai later attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, and then proceeded to study engineering and play varsity squash at Yale University.[4][5] There, he was a member of the Phi chapter of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity,[9] and graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering in 1986.[4][5] He received a master's degree in hotel administration and hospitality marketing from Cornell University in 1989.[10] Either the summer after his sophomore or junior year at Yale, he attended culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.[4][5] Tsai speaks four languages: English, Mandarin Chinese, French, and Spanish.[11]



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.[12] He hosted East Meets West on the Food Network from 1998 to 2003.[13] He hosts Simply Ming food show on PBS.[13]

In 2005, he was a judge on the PBS show Cooking Under Fire.[14] 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.[3][2] Tsai appeared on an episode of Top Chef in 2014.[15]

His other television appearances include participation in a Zoom Out on Zoom, a show distributed by PBS, in 2005[16] and on the PBS children's television show Arthur episode in 2005 about food allergies.[17]


In 1998, Tsai and Polly Talbott opened his first restaurant, Blue Ginger, in Wellesley, Massachusetts. Blue Ginger, an Asian Fusian restaurant,[13] has become a Zagat[18] and James Beard-recognised establishment,[19][20] winning many other regional awards as well.[21] The year that the restaurant opened, Tsai was named "Chef of the Year" by Esquire Magazine.[22] On March 30, 2010 Tsai opened Blue Ginger Noodle Bar, a mini-restaurant, inside Blue Ginger.[23] 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.[21]

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,[24] which was named an Esquire Magazine "Best New Restaurant" in its opening year.[25]

Cookbook authorEdit

Tsai is the author of five cookbooks: Blue Ginger, Simply Ming, Ming's Master Recipes, Simply Ming: One-Pot Meals,[20] and Simply Ming in Your Kitchen.[19]

Awards and recognitionEdit

Tsai won the Daytime Emmy award in 1999, in the category Outstanding Service Show Host.[26] Tsai's Blue Ginger Restaurant was inducted into the Culinary Hall of Fame in 2012.[27] In 2000, Ming was on the 50 Most Beautiful People list published by People magazine.[28]

Personal lifeEdit

Tsai and Polly Talbott have been married since April 1996. They have two sons, David and Henry.[29] 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.[29] According to Henry Louis Gates's PBS program Finding Your Roots, Tsai is a 116th-generation descendant of Qin Shi Huang.[30]


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.[31] While attending culinary school in France, Tsai played professionally on the European circuit.[32] In 2004, Tsai played a celebrity squash match against professional golfer Brad Faxon at a Boston squash club.[33] In 2005, he played against Mark Talbott in a charity match at a squash club in San Francisco.[citation needed]


One of Tsai's sons has food allergies, and Tsai has become a food allergy advocate who promotes awareness of food allergens.[21] By 2005,[17] 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.[34] Tsai is currently the President of the National Advisory Board for Family Reach, an organization that provides a financial lifeline to families fighting cancer.


  1. ^ a b 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.
  2. ^ a b 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.
  3. ^ a b NIC3 Staff & Tsai, Ming (2016). "Ming Tsai: NIC3 Rival". The Next Iron Chef (NIC), Season 3. Retrieved January 14, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Sadeghi, Yassmin (January 31, 2005). "Tsai '89 [sic.] Whips Up Success in Career as Chef". Yale Daily News. Retrieved January 14, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d People Staff (May 8, 2000). "Ming Tsai: Chef" (print and online). People Magazine. 53 (18). Retrieved January 14, 2017.
  6. ^ "Awards & Honors: Distinguished Alumni Award (2006)". The Miami Valley School. Archived from the original on August 31, 2018. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
  7. ^ https://iexaminer.org/chef-ming-tsai-cooking-outside-the-wok/
  8. ^ Ming Tsai (2018-03-18). "Ming Tsai on Twitter: "So proud of my niece @LaLaChuu @nikejapan… "". Twitter. Retrieved 2019-10-28.
  9. ^ "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...
  10. ^ "Big Red Footprints: Boston—The East-West empire and the cranberry kingdom". Alumni, Parents & Friends, Cornell University. January 8, 2015. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
  11. ^ "The Cultural Contributions of Chinese Immmigrants: Culinary". CUNY. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
  12. ^ "Sara's Weeknight Meals: Season 2—Episode 216: One Pot Asian Meals with Ming Tsai". Sara Moulton Enterprises, Inc. Retrieved April 28, 2017. 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."'
  13. ^ a b c Monica Burton (April 18, 2017). "After Nearly 20 Years, Ming Tsai Will Close Blue Ginger". Eater. Boston: Vox Media. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
  14. ^ PBS Staff & Tsai, Ming (January 14, 2017). "About the Series: Ming Tsai". PBS.org. Retrieved January 14, 2017.
  15. ^ Goldstein, Judith (August 20, 2014). "'Top Chef' Boston Season Revealed". The Boston Globe. Retrieved April 28, 2017 – via HighBeam Research.[dead link]
  16. ^ Moore, Frazier (April 21, 2005). "TV NOTES: Things to watch for on the tube". The Charleston Gazette. Charleston, West Virginia. Archived from the original on November 19, 2018. Retrieved April 28, 2017 – via HighBeam Research.
  17. ^ a b Samantha Critchell, Associated Press (June 21, 2005). "Expert: Kids Eat With Their Instincts". The Capital TImes. Archived from the original on November 16, 2018. Retrieved April 28, 2017 – via HighBeam Research.
  18. ^ "Blue Ginger, Wellesley, Massachusetts". Zagat. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
  19. ^ a b Cuc Lam (December 7, 2016). "Holiday Entertaining With the Macy's Culinary Council's Chef Ming Tsai". Houston Press. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
  20. ^ a b Forbes Staff (January 14, 2017). "Ming Tsai, Tastemaker, Chef & TV Personality, Boston". Forbes Travel Guide. Retrieved January 14, 2017.
  21. ^ a b c First, Devra (2017-04-18). "Ming Tsai restaurant Blue Ginger to close". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2017-04-18.
  22. ^ People Staff (May 8, 2000). "Ming Tsai, Chef". People. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
  23. ^ Cohan-Miccio, Leila (March 16, 2010). "What to Eat at Blue Ginger Noodle Bar, Opening March 30". GrubStreet.com. Retrieved January 14, 2017.
  24. ^ "Blue Dragon, Boston". Zagat. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
  25. ^ Spiegel, Anna (October 8, 2013). "Del Campo Lands on "Esquire's" Best New Restaurants List". Washingtonian. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
  26. ^ "Food Safety Education Month guide online". Foodservice Equipment & Supplies. Reed Business Information, Inc. July 1, 2002. Archived from the original on November 20, 2018. Retrieved April 28, 2017 – via HighBeam Research.
  27. ^ "Blue Ginger Restaurant (Ming Tsai)". The Culinary Hall of Fame. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
  28. ^ Silverman, Stephen H. (2000). "PEOPLE's 'Most Beautiful'". People. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
  29. ^ a b Tsai, Ming (January 28, 2012). "Squash, a Growing Sport, and Nutritious, Too". The New York Times. Retrieved May 16, 2013.
  30. ^ FYR Staff (October 21, 2014). "The Melting Pot". Finding Your Roots (FYR). Retrieved January 14, 2017 – via PBS.org.
  31. ^ Zug, James (2011). "Ming Sings: An Interview with Celebrity Chef Ming Tsai". Squash Magazine (December). Archived from the original on February 18, 2012. Retrieved January 14, 2017.
  32. ^ 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]
  33. ^ 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]
  34. ^ Sydney Lupkin (December 5, 2012). "Chef Ming Tsai Recalls Son's Struggle with Food Allergies". ABC News. Retrieved April 28, 2017.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit