or many years, Ming’s parents — both immigrants from China — owned, and his mother ran, a restaurant in Dayton, Ohio, called Mandarin Kitchen. Ming worked there during his teen years and showed his obvious talent and passion for cooking. But… this is an ethnic food story with a twist: The reason Ming’s family settled in Dayton was because his father was an aerospace engineer who worked at the nearby Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and Ming initially embarked to follow in his footsteps, earning a degree in mechanical engineering at Yale University. But cooking was never far from his mind, and he embarked on a career that led to his two successful Asian cuisine restaurants in the Boston area and a long career as a TV chef.
Though known as a “celebrity chef,” Chicago’s Rick Bayless much prefers to talk about food than to talk about himself. So it was no surprise when he turned an acceptance speech into a loving tribute to the late Julia Child — the TV chef and author who Bayless credits with shaping his culinary career — when he received the second-ever Julia Child Foundation Award at a dinner at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 27.
Rick Bayless received the second-ever Julia Child Award at a ceremony at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History. His speech, marked by humility, focused less on himself than on the huge impact Julia Child had on his own career and on the nation’s food culture. Please enjoy the transcript of his speech.