Sometimes a Peking-Ravioli is more than a dumpling…
In Central Square it is a celebration of the genius of Joyce Chen and the community she inspired!
The 2nd Annual Festival of Dumplings in Central Square
to honor Joyce Chen’s Birthday!
Sunday, September 15, 2013
11:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m.
Join us for a multi-cultural celebration of $1 dumplings, cuisine and community. Learn the inspiring story of Joyce Chen, Central Square’s very own Chef & Restaurant Owner, Entrepreneur, and Pioneer.
Enjoy $1 dumplings in front of Central Square restaurants and enter to win the “Central Square Peking Ravioli Gift Certificate” package!
Restaurants participating in the 2nd Annual Festival of Dumplings:
o Asgard, 350 Massachusetts Avenue
o Dosa Factory, 571 Massachusetts Ave
o The Middle East, 472 Massachusetts Avenue
o Moksa, 450 Massachusetts Avenue
o NEW! Patty Chen’s Dumpling Room, 907 Main Street
o Thelonious Monkfish, 524 Massachusetts Avenue
o Yoki , 485 Massachusetts Avenue
o Zuzu’s, 474 Massachusetts Avenue
September 14, 1917 – August 23, 1994
Short Biography and Why We Love Her!
Joyce Chen was a Chinese chef, restaurateur and entrepreneur. Born in Beijing, China, she and her husband, Thomas and their first two children left on the second to last boat from Shianghai in 1949 as the communists were taking over the country.
As they’d known someone who’d spent time in Cambridge, Massachusetts, they chose to settle there. While young, Joyce learned to cook by her nanny’s side; she loved to spend time in the kitchen observing and helping the servants at their culinary duties.
When she’d settled in Cambridge, it happened that she’d made pumpkin cookies and her own Chinese egg rolls for a bake sale at her children’s school. After delivering the goods to the school, she’d gone home to clean up, but when she returned, she discovered that the pan of pumpkin cookies was still on the display table, but the egg rolls were nowhere to be found! Well, they probably hated them and were too embarrassed to display them! she thought. What she soon learned, however, was that they’d been so popular, they’d sold out in fifteen minutes flat! Joyce was delighted and drove home to prepare more! Witnessing a public with such unplumbed enthusiasm, she soon began teaching Chinese cooking lessons in her home and at Cambridge and Boston Adult Education Centers.
At the time, there were no Mandarin restaurants in New England, and so Joyce began feeding homesick Chinese MIT students their favorite dishes. Legend has it that these same students encouraged Joyce Chen to open a restaurant swore to patronize it. Many even helped to bankroll the operation, telling Joyce that she just needed to pay them back when she could! She opened New England’s first Mandarin Chinese restaurant in 1958 in Cambridge, Mass., introducing dishes like Peking Duck, Moo Shu Pork and Hot-and-Sour Soup and most famously: Peking Ravioli which she so named to make the dumpling more familiar to an American audience!
Her regular patrons included John Kenneth Galbraith, James Beard, Julia (and Paul) Child and Henry A. Kissinger. She later wrote “The Joyce Chen Cookbook” and was host of the nationally broadcast PBS program “Joyce Chen Cooks.”
In 1994, Joyce Chen passed away. In 1998, she was inducted into the James Beard Foundation Hall of Fame. Her legacy lives on in the work of her daughter Helen Chen who markets a line of Asian kitchen products and writes cookbooks and through her son Stephen Chen who presides over Joyce Chen Foods, Inc. Her legacy lives on through us all when we order Peking Duck, buy a Joyce Chen wok and stir-fry at home or eat Peking Ravioli. Almost all Asian restaurants in Boston and Cambridge—even the nation! —owe a large debt of gratitude to Joyce Chen! Without her hard work in encouraging the American palate to embrace foreign flavors the many Thai, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Korean, Mandarin & Szechuan and Japanese restaurants that flourish throughout this country might never have caught on!
We love you Joyce Chen! Happy Birthday!