Chinese Cooking For The Masses
Joyce Chen made Chinese food popular in America by making it accessible through simple recipes and useful restaurant design such as buffet-style service which enabled guests to try multiple types of new food and find something they enjoyed. To put into context how important Joyce Chen was to shaping the American culinary scene, she was included in a series of 5 postal stamps celebrating US “icons of food” in 2014 which included Chen alongside Julia Child and James Beard.
Entrepreneurial Joyce Chen set up and ran her own Chinese restaurant in Massachusetts, USA which became so incredibly popular that its guests included Jackie Onassis and Henry Kissinger. Julia Child had been incredibly successful bringing French cuisine to the masses and after spotting Chen’s talent put her on the path to doing the same for Chinese food.
Joyce Chen was the first Asian chef to get access to a wide television audience for Chinese cooking. She made what was at the time considered an “exotic” food something that people were excited to try out in their homes all across the USA. A technique she used to make unfamiliar food easier to understand was to relate it to an existing “American” food, for example to call potsticker dumplings “Peking ravioli” immediately made them more relatable.
Joyce Chen was visionary in her ability to encourage people to learn and try out things from different cultures and pioneered cooking design techniques that we now take for granted.
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