Interview with Chef Ming Tsai of Blue Ginger – Wellesley, MA and a recipe for Three-Bean Chili

Another very important organization that Ming is involved with is FAAN, the Food Allergy Anaphylaxis Network.  As their national spokesperson, he has worked with the state of Massachusetts to create a new food safety law and hopes to bring further awareness to the rest of the country.  Since one of his children has food allergies, he knows the importance of properly handling food in a restaurant for those people with allergies.  There are an estimated 12 million people in the United States that have food allergies.

“We have the safest restaurant in the country (Blue Ginger) for people with food allergies and are busier than ever because of that.  It is serious.  Someone can die from this.  If a guest tells us they are allergic to certain foods, we use new cutting boards, pans and knives”  Ming also said that some people will say they are allergic, when they really aren’t.  “We jump through hoops to keep them safe.  We take it very seriously. If you just don’t want something like butter, tell us.”

Catering to people with food allergies has its business benefits as well.  Ming said that most restaurant decisions are made by the person with food allergies, if that is a concern with a group of diners.  The next restaurant choice is made by children, which was quite interesting.

Sharing a toast with Ming Tsai in Atlanta

So, what is the future of dining out if we are all cooking at home more, whether it is for health or allergy reasons?  Dining out is not going away, it is just changing.  “At the end of the day, it is all about the food, isn’t it?  It’s all about people making food and people serving the food.  It’s about the total experience.  You can drop $5 million dollars creating a space and it doesn’t make it any better.  It is all about the food and the service.  It’s the whole experience.”

A question that I am sure Ming has received quite often over the years is why someone with an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from Yale and a Master’s Degree from Cornell would choose to be a chef.  “After junior year, I knew I wanted to be a chef.  My mom was great and told me to follow my dream and give it 110%.  Dad said I wasn’t going to be a good engineer anyway, so go cook.”

My bet is that Ming could be successful at anything he chooses to do in life.  One thing we know he is quite good at is golf.  Mr. B played golf with him the day after this interview and while it was a tight match to the end, Ming beat him by one stroke.  Mr. B is demanding a rematch.

Ming, this is for you. Mr. B is waiting for you at the tee. Game on. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I have prepared several recipes from Simply Ming – One Pot Meals.  Every one of them was excellent.  I decided to share this recipe for Three-Bean Chili since I often get requests for vegetarian recipes.

Three-Bean Chili

Serve your chili with homemade cornbread sticks or muffins

The flavor of this chili was a real surprise with the addition of several Asian ingredients including fermented black beans, tamari sauce and edamame.  It had the right amount of heat for us and was perfectly seasoned.  I used homemade roasted vegetable stock which gave it a real depth of flavor.  As Ming suggests, make extra and prepare it a day ahead since chili always tastes better the next day.

Topped with Greek yogurt and lemon zest, this will become a favorite in your home


Three-Bean Chili


2 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
2 medium red onions, cut into 1/3-inch pieces
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons fermented black beans
2 serrano chilies, minced
1 bunch scallions, sliced thin, green and white parts separated
1/4 cup wheat-free tamari sauce
2 cups shelled edamame
1 (15-ounce) can white beans, drained and rinsed
2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups roma tomatoes, roughly chopped, with their juice
1 quart vegetable stock or unsweetened black tea (I used homemade roasted vegetable stock)
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup Greek yogurt


1, Heat a stockpot or other tall wide pot over medium-high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat the bottom. When the oil is hot, add the onions, garlic, fermented black beans, chilies and scallion whites. Sauté until lightly caramelized, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the tamari sauce and deglaze the pot. Add the edamame, the white and black beans, tomatoes with their juice, and stock and bring to a simmer. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Simmer until the mixture has reduced by one-quarter, 45 to 60 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the yogurt, scallion greens and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper. Serve from the pot or transfer the chili to four individual serving bowls. Serve with yogurt on the side.

Recipe courtesy of Chef Ming Tsai
Simply Ming – One Pot Meals



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