In celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, today we're spotlighting two extraordinary Asian-American chefs who are redefining expectations for how restaurants operate and making a positive impact in their communities.
Melissa Miranda is an acclaimed chef, restaurateur, and community leader. After attending culinary school in Italy and working in kitchens around the globe, Miranda returned to her roots in Seattle to embark on an impactful culinary journey. She launched "No Cookbooks Allowed " with friends," a series of family-style pop-up dinners celebrating the diverse home cooking of immigrant communities, including Filipino, Vietnamese, Thai, and Chinese (read more about them here). The concept paved the way for Musang, Miranda's wildly popular restaurant, which pays homage to her Filipino heritage.
In addition to being known as an excellent chef, Miranda has made a name for herself by challenging industry norms and reimagining what a restaurant can be. She feels strongly that these spaces hold transformative power as vital community hubs built on mutual respect and empowerment. A proof of concept is Musang itself, where employees are paid a livable wage with benefits instead of tips. To learn more about Melissa's inspiring work, watch her TED Talk.
Irene Li is a Chinese American chef, cookbook author, and visionary based in Boston, Massachusetts. She co-founded Mei Mei, a family-owned restaurant-turned-dumpling company focusing on locally sourced and sustainable ingredients. Known for her innovative and socially responsible approach to food, Li is a resolute advocate for food equity and workers' rights, using her platform to amplify the voices of marginalized communities. In 2020, she co-founded Project Restore Us, an initiative dedicated to supporting working immigrant families by channeling funds to restaurants for packaging and delivering nutritious, affordable, and culturally relevant groceries. Irene Li made history in 2022 by becoming the youngest person to win a James Beard Leadership Award. You can learn more about Irene Li here. And be sure to check out the cookbooks she co-wrote with her siblings: Double Awesome Chinese Food, and the forthcoming Perfectly Good Food!
If you’re looking for family-friendly, Asian-inspired recipes to make at home this month, check out Sticky Fingers Cooking online recipes and use the filters to search by geographic location, ingredient, keywords, and more. While you’re there, take a look around! In addition to recipes, you’ll find a wealth of tips, techniques, and fascinating information to enhance kids’ culinary skills and nurture their love of cooking!
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