Boston’s culinary scene has recently been sizzling with drama – and not the kind you might find in a well-stocked pantry. Celebrity chef Ming Tsai found himself the main course of public criticism after an on-stage interview at WBUR’s CitySpace took a turn towards the unsavory.
The chef participated in the “Curated Cuisine” event alongside Mei Mei Dumpling Factory’s Irene Li on February 6th. However, it wasn’t until March 12th that Li posted an Instagram reel featuring some of the more cringe-worthy moments from the interview. Among these were Tsai’s ill-conceived jokes about drugging Li with a “roofie” and insinuating that he, too, had been drugged.
It appears Tsai’s attempt at humor was more of a kitchen nightmare than a delightful amuse-bouche. With Boston grappling with a drink-spiking crisis, the public was not amused. Li’s husband, Chris Ward, chimed in, voicing his disapproval of Tsai’s jests.
The interview took another turn when Li referenced a previous “Curated Cuisine” guest, local chef Tiffani Faison, who had discussed the #MeToo movement and its impact on the restaurant industry. Tsai seemed to downplay the issue, stating that the “bad boys get the press” while claiming he and his “chef buddies” were innocent of such misconduct.
After the Instagram reel went viral, Tsai found himself in hot water. Apologizing for his comments, he acknowledged the importance of addressing sexual misconduct and vowed to be more mindful in the future. Tsai also highlighted the achievements of women in the culinary world and emphasized his zero-tolerance policy for harassment.
However, the online community was quick to criticize Tsai’s apology, with some users pointing out the irony of his initial “roofie” joke. Biplaw Rai, a renowned restaurateur, expressed his disappointment and questioned whether Tsai’s behavior was indicative of a generational disconnect.
Though the hour-long video of the interview remains available on WBUR’s website, it’s safe to say that Tsai’s “roofie” jokes have left a bad taste in the mouths of many. The celebrity chef’s misstep serves as a reminder that when it comes to humor, it’s crucial to know your audience – and to avoid cooking up controversy.