Dementia Series-Disabled Legend Joyce Chen

Joyce Chen was born on 14 September, 1917 in Beijing, China. Joyce Chen died on 23 August, 1994 of Alzheimer’s disease. Joyce Chen was a Chinese chef, restauranteur, and entrepreneur. Born in Beijing, China, Joyce and husband Thomas left Shanghai, China in 1949 as Communists were taking over the country. Joyce Chen settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Joyce Chen opened her first restaurant, “Joyce Chen Restaurant,” in 1958. In 1960 she began teaching Chinese cooking at the Cambridge and Boston Adult Education Centers, introducing many Americans to homestyle and gourmet Chinese cooking techniques. In 1962, she published her influential cookbook, The Joyce Chen Cookbook. In 1968, she starred in her own cooking show on PBS called Joyce Chen Cooks. Joyce Chen later introduced a line of Chinese cooking utensils. Joyce Chen is credited with popularising the Mandarin style of Chinese cooking in the United States.

Joyce Chen wanted to make Chinese food accessible to the American public. Since her first restaurant was in an Italian area, she renamed potstickers, or pork-filled Chinese dumplings to Peking Ravioli on her menus. Chinese restaurants and diners in the greater Boston, Massachusetts area still call the dumplings “Peking Ravioli” or simply “ravs.”

Joyce Chen’s namesake restaurant closed in 1998. Joyce Chen’s daughter Helen Chen is CEO of cookware company Joyce Chen, Inc. Son Henry owned Joyce Chen Unlimited, a retail store in Acton, Massachusetts, which closed in March 2008.Joyce’s son Stephen Chen is president of Joyce Chen Foods, Inc.

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