Q&A: Ming Tsai, Blue Ginger

Ming Tsai knows the power of the media — glowing reviews and word-of-mouth have propelled his Japanese restaurant Blue Ginger to prominence. After a whirlwind week of unexpected media attention questioning the integrity of his business in late October, the chef is now an expert on the subject. Blue Ginger was implicated in a Oct. 23 Boston Sunday Globe exposé about seafood fraud titled “On the Menu, But Not On Your Plate,” simply because a popular dish he serves using Alaska sablefish uses the vernacular (but not federally approved) name “butterfish” on the menu.

Aside from using the chef’s well-earned reputation and name as draw for readers (he and his restaurant were mentioned in the second paragraph), Tsai says the newspaper itself got its facts mixed up, describing the fish he serves as a locally caught fish typically sold as bait for $2 a pound. Tsai pays up to $20 a pound for Alaska sablefish fillets, but that was not mentioned in the original story. In a series of articles that focused on species substitution and DNA tests used to uncover such fraud, Tsai was suddenly associated with criminals. Cue the onslaught of negative reaction for a chef who says he’s the “most careful person in the world when it comes to what’s on the plate.” 

Click here to read the interview with Tsai, which appeared in the December issue of SeaFood Business magazine >

And click here to read James Wright’s 31 October SeafoodSource commentary on Tsai >


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