Interview: Chefs Ken Oringer and Ming Tsai Team Up for 'Boston Bites Back'

Staff Writer
The star chefs spoke with The Daily Meal about the upcoming event to benefit bombing victims

Mike Diskin

Following the bombing at the Boston Marathon on April 15th, Boston’s restaurant community has been very active in creating events and donating proceeds to the One Fund. On May 15th, two of the cities greatest chefs, Ken Oringer and Ming Tsai, will be putting on one of the biggest fundraising events yet, Boston Bites Back.  At Fenway Park, from 6 to 10 p.m., chefs from all over the Greater Boston area will come together to prepare specialty dishes and remind everyone of what makes Boston the special, tight-knit and strong community it is.

We had the opportunity to sit down with chefs Chefs Oringer and Tsai, who elaborated on the event as well as their thoughts on Boston’s food scene and community in general.

After the horrible events of Marathon Monday, the Boston community in general has responded with vigour and compassion.  At what point did you two get together with Mayor Menino to organize such a large scale fundraiser?

Oringer: I sent a tweet out and put a call in to Mayor Menino’s office the day after it happened. I said that I have an idea for a fundraising event for the victims. We put our heads together and said ‘How can we make it happen?’ and went from there.
Tsai: We also knew we needed to "go big, or go home." We knew this had to be on level big enough to really help unite the city.

Why did you choose Fenway Park for your event?

Oringer: Fenway is such an iconic venue for this city. We were originally weighing our options and talking about the Convention Center, the waterfront, outdoor and indoor venues. But in the end, this is Boston and we’re working to show our pride for our city. There’s only one place to do something like this and that’s Fenway Park.
Tsai: What I love about Fenway is also the idea of using all of the concession stands. Chefs all across the city will be serving up their signature dishes "across the counter." That adds a real fun element to the experience for both the chefs and those eating.

It seems like food is major player when it comes to bringing people together to celebrate community and Boston. What are your thoughts on the Boston food scene and community and where it is headed?

Oringer: As chefs, it’s in our DNA to help people and to cook for people. We’re always the first ones to jump in and help people because it’s what we do. Unlike a lot of cities where there are egos involved, there’s so much camaraderie among chefs in Boston. Everyone is interested in lending a hand however they can. It’s really a joy to be a part of this community.
Tsai: Food is really a universal connection. It simply makes people happy. World powers connect over food! The fact that all these chefs have raised their hands, without question, speaks volumes about this community. It's incredible.

As I am sure this event will be a huge success, do you anticipate organizing events like this in the future or perhaps making Boston Bites Back an annual occurrence?

Oringer: A lot of people have asked Ming and I this question. Right now we have ten days to sell 5000 tickets and that’s no easy feat. We’ve had so much help from so many people; it’s been incredible. For now we’re dealing with this event and the goal at hand and when it’s over, we’ll  go from there. People have no idea how many different wheels are turning to make this happen. I’ve been joking with Ming that he and I should go into the party-planning business after this since we’ve touched on every part of the event from start to finish, but I think we’re both happy to stay in restaurants for now.
Tsai: It is an interesting idea. Lots on our plate to get it launched. We'll need to get back to you on that one!

Tickets are thankfully selling quickly, so get yours here and eat, drink and donate to support the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings while celebrating community, compassion, and the great town of Boston. 

Related Links
Eel, El Bulli, and Izakaya with Chef Ken OringerBeam Ming Tsai into the KitchenBarbados Food & Wine Festival Q&A with Chef Ming Tsai