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Aug 24, 2008 01:53 PM

Ming Tsai...

What is your perception of celebrity chef Ming Tsai. We stopped off at his bustling Blue Ginger in Wellesley, Mass. for early dinner the other night on our way down from Maine to home base in New York...
His take on East Meets West...his show.
His cuisine...(we enjoyed our dinner very much, we shared his signature double cut Pork Chop and New Zealand Rack of Lamb ((a whole rack)) with Asian was pricey, but quite good. Dessert, his Macadamia Nut Ice Cream with sesame crust was excellent! Actually all dishes lying on the counter for pick up looked super colorful, generous and exciting. Professional, well-attired waitstaff. The place had energy. We did not expect to see him because of his recent trip to China during the Olympics, but there he was expediting the line at the open kitchen and running from table to table to say hello to patrons...our neighboring table who were locals confided that he has always been very accessible.)
Was his show one of the first to innovate the whole Asian Fusion trend?
He's come quite a way from Dayton...

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  1. Frankly when he was on the Food Network in the earlier days, I thought he was a bit of a jackass. Once he moved over to PBS and had his own show I realized it was how the FN shows were produced and how all the male chefs were groomed.

    His PBS show is easy to watch (i.e., doesn't insult you) and he knows what he's doing...although there's been times he couldn't properly pronounce some Asian ingredients (not that I can) but you sort of expect that.

    He didn't start the Asian fusion trend but he might be part of the second wave of refinement.

    8 Replies
    1. re: ML8000

      Do you recall what Asian ingredients Ming mispronounced? Were they Chinese ingredients because I would be surprised if they were. I think he speaks Mandarin proficiently.

      1. re: KTinNYC

        He mispronounced lop cheong, which is more of a southern Chinese/Cantonese thing. No big deal really...except when you're on TV. It could have been he pronounced it with a Mandarin accent. Oh well, nothing like a little Mandarin v. Canto v. Taiwanese v. ABC speech action, eh? :)

        ETA: I've never eaten at his restaurant since it's in MA and I'm in CA.

        1. re: ML8000

          Come to think of it I've heard him pronounce lop cheong like a native English speaker. I just assumed he was dumbing it down for the gwei lo.

        2. re: KTinNYC

          I heard him say that "Pho" was pronounced "Foe" instead of "fuh", which I found surprising.

          1. re: jacquelyncoffey

            He's Chinese not Vietnamese. I give him a pass.

          2. re: KTinNYC

            I love Ming Tsai, and if you were wondering I remember him pronouncing gochujang as "kochijang". I'll let it pass though because he's not Korean (:

          3. re: ML8000

            He was certainly a pioneer of East-West cooking in New England, at any rate.

            1. re: ML8000

              I'M a bit of a jackass. Ming is a great chef and a good TV guy.

            2. Of all the celebrity chefs he produces the food I most want to eat, using his recipes I've eaten things I wouldn't otherwise have tried. In some ways he's kinda' like a Chinese Mario Batali. I'm always interested to learn about Asian food and he's very knowlageable about the ingredients, history and culture. Also, being from an Asian background myself I like hearing the stories about his family sometimes they trigger my own good memories.

              1. Ming Tsai has always been one of my all-time favorite chefs. He's so knowledgeable about food and he explains things so well. He's always going on about tasting the food -- really getting in there each step of the way and checking what you're doing. It's really too bad we don't see more of him on TV.

                8 Replies
                1. re: Fuser

                  Fuser, while we were there the talk was about a new series of 'East Meets West' episodes in the making...His website would have announcements about it.
                  By the way, according to his website he started cooking with his parents at their Chinese restaurant in Dayton, Ohio...went on to Yale to study engineering and then Cornell's noted hospitality school. He also worked in France and around the states before opening his own place in Wellesley. I guess he was smitten with the food realm. If you ever get there you will notice a definate Western turn to his Asian cuisine as well as the operation of the made bread served to every table, for example. It worked for us.
                  Blue Ginger is currently celebrating a 10th Anniversary...

                  1. re: gutreactions

                    I'm from Dayton and still don't know which restaurant his parents owned.

                    1. re: Fuser

                      I live in Dayton, and this town is in dire need of something decent that's Chinese.

                      1. re: gutreactions

                        >>> Fuser, while we were there the talk was about a new series of 'East Meets West' episodes in the making...His website would have announcements about it.

                        Um, maybe I'm the one who's confused but I would swear East Meets West was the name of his Food Network show. Where as Simply Ming is the name of the PBS show and is in it's 6th to 8th season ... no?

                        1. re: HarryK

                          Harry, I think you are right about the shows names. Simply Ming was just recently taken off of our PBS station, and I am so sad.

                            1. re: umami76

                              dani is in houston, and we hope and pray she is ok!

                    2. I never saw him on FN, but found him on PBS. I really enjoy his show. It was refreshingly focused more on food rather than on him or gimmicks. I am not well-acquainted with cooking Asian cuisines, so I found him quite fascinating. I enjoy when he has his family on as well.

                      1. I really enjoyed his show, I especially loved it when he had his mother on. I think he really paid due respect to his parents and his roots.
                        And geez, I never thought he was an a.., just knowledgeable.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: chef chicklet

                          Wow, I can think of oodles more FN chefs that are bits of ___, but Ming Tsai?

                          I find him personable and easy to watch. Now, PBS's Yan Can Cook? Ick.

                          And sooooo many of the 'chefs' on FN? Double ick.