Boston Chef Ming Tsai has been a pioneer in the culinary world for years. A former James Beard award winner, he’s also a prolific cookbook author, restaurant owner and host of the Emmy-nominated Simply Ming, the longest-running cooking show on PBS. But perhaps his most impressive achievement has been using his culinary talents to pay it forward.
Despite the unprecedented challenges 2020 brought to the restaurant industry, Tsai has managed to find a silver lining in the chaos. For the last several months, he’s been on a mission to give back and spread kindness amongst the Greater Boston community.
After his wife was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer in 2017, Tsai put together an easy-to-prepare yet savory meal option that catered to her new vegan diet. Rooted in the belief that food is medicine, Tsai created MingsBings, vegan, veggie-filled patties made of eight superfoods. With each purchase, he contributes a share of its profits to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Family Reach, a charity that provides a financial lifeline to families fighting cancer.
MingsBings have played a vital role in Tsai’s latest plan to inspire others. During the week of Thanksgiving, he surprised five local families in Massachusetts with a gourmet pop-up restaurant experience in their front yards. The featured menu item was, of course, MingsBings. Chef Tsai calls this initiative “Bing Dong Dine,” playing off the childhood prank, “Ding Dong Ditch,” but with a kindness spin. His goal is to spread joy and bring a fun dining experience to deserving families in Massachusetts.
For his first Bing Dong Dine, he surprised a family in Chelmsford, MA, whose five-year-old daughter was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2018. He then surprised a pediatric ICU nurse, a 10-year-old cancer patient in the maintenance stage of treatment, and two gentlemen who started an organization called Sponsor-A-Basket. This organization has raised money for eight food pantries across the Greater Boston area. He also paid a visit to a lupus patient who recently battled breast cancer. Despite all the difficulties she’s endured, during COVID she’s made more than 1,000 face masks for the Boys and Girls Club as well as for residents of a local nursing home.
Remarks Tsai, “It was an honor to be able to surprise them, cook for them and share their stories.”
And he’s not done. Through social media, he is encouraging others to continue the challenge by dropping off meals, a batch of cookies, or even household items to friends and neighbors using the Instagram hashtag #DingDongDitchRemix. There’s also a printable note on the MingsBings website to include with your drop off.
In the words of Chef Tsai: “Let’s get the kindness curve steeper than the COVID curve.”
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