Stories / Impact

This James Beard Fellow is Ready for Her Next Challenge

Learn more about our newest Fellow, Mimi Chen

Morgan Carter

June 08, 2021


Headshot of Mimi Chen standing against a white wall. She is wearing glasses and a white shirt
Photo: Shane Kim

For decades, cooking at the James Beard House has been an aspiration for many chefs and considered a career milestone. Last month, we launched the Beard House Fellows program, presented by Capital One, which re-envisions the potential of this historic space into a hub of training and professional development for talented emerging chefs.

The program’s pilot, beginning in May and running through October 2021, is launching in partnership with the Food Education Fund (FEF). Our initial class of six Fellows will all be alumni of FEF’s New York-based partner high schools.  

Each Fellow will have a one-month residency at the Beard House, and will receive training in financial and legal matters, public relations, policy and advocacy, social media, and more. Fellows will also develop a Beard Box meal kit in collaboration with Great Performances, available for purchasing and shipping across the continental U.S., with special perks for Capital One cardholders. Sign up for the waitlist to get your Beard Box

Our newest Fellow is Mimi Chen. An avid fan of cooking shows, Mimi took the competitive cooking plunge in 2015, entering the C-CAP (Careers through Culinary Arts Program) Competition for Scholarships and winning a full scholarship to the International Culinary Center (ICC). After impressing one of the judges at the competition, Mimi also received a paid internship at Café Boulud, and after graduating from the ICC, she was offered a full-time position at Restaurant DANIEL. Mimi continued to participate in a number of high-end competitions, including staging with Team USA at the 2017 Bocuse d’Or World Competition—they ultimately took home the gold, a first for the U.S. Encouraged by chef Daniel Boulud, Mimi moved to San Francisco to train under Matthew Kirkley at his Michelin three-starred restaurant Coi. At just 20 years old, Mimi represented Team USA alongside chef Kirkley in the 2019 Bocuse d’Or. Looking to start her own business, Mimi hopes to sharpen her marketing, branding, and social media skills during her fellowship while also learning the financial aspects of business ownership.  

We asked each Fellow a few questions about their culinary dreams and signature dishes. Read on to learn more about Mimi’s favorite foods and her number one condiment that she puts on everything:

James Beard Foundation: Do you have a signature dish?

Mimi Chen: My family has been enjoying my creamy mushrooms and leek dish.

JBF: What is your earliest food memory?

MC: I’ve been eating hot and sour soup since I was a kid. It’s my number one food and I would choose it over anything.

JBF: What is an item you think everyone should have in their pantry?

MC: Hot sauce! I love adding hot sauce and vinegar to almost everything.

JBF: What is one culinary destination you hope to go to one day?

MC: I would love to travel to Asia one day and eat everything there.

JBF: What is your favorite or least favorite current food trend?

MC: I love bubble tea and hot pot the most right now!

Sign up for the waitlist to get Mimi’s Beard Box, on sale June 14 

Learn more about the Beard House Fellows program, presented by Capital One.


Morgan Carter is the content manager at the James Beard Foundation. Find her on Instagram and Twitter.