Clayton Ming-Hao Tsai
March 29, 1964
Le Cordon Bleu
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").
Tsai hosts Simply Ming, a cooking show featured on American Public Television, in its seventeenth 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 as Clayton Ming-Hao Tsai, in Newport Beach, California, United States on March 29, 1964, to Iris (née Lee), an eventual restaurateur; and Stephen Tsai, an engineer; and was raised in Dayton, Ohio, where he attended The Miami Valley School. Tsai's maternal grandparents emigrated to Dayton from Taiwan after escaping China during the Cultural Revolution. He assisted with the cooking as he was growing up in the restaurant owned by his mother, Mandarin Kitchen. Tsai is a grandson of Chinese composer Lee Pao-Chen, and uncle of Lauren Tsai.
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.
In 1998, Tsai and Polly Talbott opened his first restaurant, Blue Ginger, in Wellesley, Massachusetts. Blue Ginger, an Asian Fusion 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. On 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. His niece is Lauren Tsai. According to Henry Louis Gates's PBS program Finding Your Roots, Tsai is a 116th-generation descendant of Qin Shi Huang (259 BC – 210 BC), founder of the Qin dynasty and the first emperor of a unified China.
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.
- "The birth of Clayton Tsai". California Birth Index. Retrieved 22 October 2020.
- 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.
- People Staff (May 8, 2000). "Ming Tsai: Chef" (print and online). People Magazine. 53 (18). Retrieved January 14, 2017.
- "Awards & Honors: Distinguished Alumni Award (2006)". The Miami Valley School. Archived from the original on August 31, 2018. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
- "【手稿】 李抱忱 女兒樸虹全家的聖誕信" (in Chinese). Taiwan Music Institute. Retrieved 2021-02-05.
- Ming Tsai (2018-03-18). "Ming Tsai on Twitter: "So proud of my niece @LaLaChuu @nikejapan… "". Twitter. Retrieved 2019-10-28.
- "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...
- "Big Red Footprints: Boston—The East-West empire and the cranberry kingdom". Alumni, Parents & Friends, Cornell University. January 8, 2015. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
- "The Cultural Contributions of Chinese Immmigrants: Culinary". CUNY. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
- "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."'
- Monica Burton (April 18, 2017). "After Nearly 20 Years, Ming Tsai Will Close Blue Ginger". Eater. Boston: Vox Media. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
- PBS Staff & Tsai, Ming (January 14, 2017). "About the Series: Ming Tsai". PBS.org. Retrieved January 14, 2017.
- Goldstein, Judith (August 20, 2014). "'Top Chef' Boston Season Revealed". The Boston Globe. Retrieved April 28, 2017 – via HighBeam Research.[dead link]
- 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.
- "Blue Ginger, Wellesley, Massachusetts". Zagat. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
- Cuc Lam (December 7, 2016). "Holiday Entertaining With the Macy's Culinary Council's Chef Ming Tsai". Houston Press. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
- Forbes Staff (January 14, 2017). "Ming Tsai, Tastemaker, Chef & TV Personality, Boston". Forbes Travel Guide. Retrieved January 14, 2017.
- First, Devra (2017-04-18). "Ming Tsai restaurant Blue Ginger to close". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2017-04-18.
- People Staff (May 8, 2000). "Ming Tsai, Chef". People. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
- Cohan-Miccio, Leila (March 16, 2010). "What to Eat at Blue Ginger Noodle Bar, Opening March 30". GrubStreet.com. Retrieved January 14, 2017.
- "Blue Dragon, Boston". Zagat. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
- Spiegel, Anna (October 8, 2013). "Del Campo Lands on "Esquire's" Best New Restaurants List". Washingtonian. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
- "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.
- "Blue Ginger Restaurant (Ming Tsai)". The Culinary Hall of Fame. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
- Silverman, Stephen H. (2000). "PEOPLE's 'Most Beautiful'". People. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
- Tsai, Ming (January 28, 2012). "Squash, a Growing Sport, and Nutritious, Too". The New York Times. Retrieved May 16, 2013.
- Tsai, Ming (March 18, 2018). ""Ming Tsai on Twitter: "So proud of my niece @LaLaChuu @nikejapan…"". Twitter. Retrieved 2021-04-14.
- FYR Staff (October 21, 2014). "The Melting Pot". Finding Your Roots (FYR). Retrieved January 14, 2017 – via PBS.org.
- 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.
- Power, John (May 9, 2004). "Ming Tsai, He Cooks Up A Mean Hoisin-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]
- 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.
- 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.