2015 We Are Boston Anniversary Leadership Awardees Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the 2015 We Are Boston Anniversary Gala Planning Committee are proud to honor Ming Tsai and Junot Díaz for their outstanding contributions.
Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New Jersey, Junot Díaz is the author of Drown, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; and This is How You Lose Her, a New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist. He is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, PEN/Malamud Award, Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Guggenheim Fellowship and PEN/O. Henry Award. A graduate of Rutgers College, Díaz is the fiction editor at Boston Review and a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Ming was raised in Dayton, Ohio, where he spent hours cooking alongside his mother and father at Mandarin Kitchen, the family-owned restaurant. He headed east to attend Phillips Academy Andover and continued to Yale University, earning his degree in Mechanical Engineering. During this time, Ming spent his summers in Paris, attending Le Cordon Bleu cooking school and apprenticing in area restaurants. After graduating from Yale, Ming moved to Paris and trained under renowned Pastry Chef Pierre Herme and then on to Osaka with Sushi Master Kobayashi. Upon his return to the United States, Ming enrolled in Cornell University, earning a Master’s degree in Hotel Administration and Hospitality Marketing.
In 1998, Ming opened Blue Ginger in Wellesley and in its first year, Blue Ginger received 3 stars from the Boston Globe, was named “Best New Restaurant” by Boston Magazine, and was nominated by the James Beard Foundation as “Best New Restaurant 1998”. That same year, Esquire Magazine honored Ming as “Chef of the Year”, and The James Beard Foundation crowned Ming “2002 Best Chef Northeast.” In February 2013, Ming opened his second restaurant Blue Dragon and it was named one of Esquire Magazine’s “Best New Restaurants 2013” and one of Zagat’s “24 new restaurants you need to know about around the US”.
Ming serves as the President, National Advisory Board, of the Family Reach organization, a non-profit whose mission is to provide financial relief and support to families fighting cancer. Ming is also a national spokesperson for the Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) organization and is proud to have developed the Food Allergy Reference Book.