In 1949 Joyce Chen came to America from Shanghai, China and settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts. On one occasion, as she and her family adjusted to their new way of life, she volunteered to donate some food to her children’s school fair. Cooking had always been her first love and she often dazzled her friends at home with her delicious and unique dishes.
For this particular event, she worked all night and prepared cookies shaped like pumpkins and her own Chinese egg rolls. After delivering the items to school she went back home to clean up. When she returned, she saw her pumpkin cookies still on the bake sale table, but no egg rolls. She thought perhaps no one liked them and that maybe they were too embarrassed to put them out until one of the school mothers rushed up to her explaining that the egg rolls were so popular that they had sold out immediately. Delighted and relieved, Joyce went straight back home and prepared more.
This is when she discovered the growing interest in Chinese food and she soon began teaching lessons at her home and, later, at Cambridge’s and Boston’s Adult Education Centers. With the encouragement of friends and neighbors, she opened The Joyce Chen Restaurant in 1958. She also wrote her first Joyce Chen Cook Book in 1964 and in 1968 starred in her own national televised PBS cooking series called “Joyce Chen Cooks”. In the 70’s, she introduced her own line of Chinese cookware which is found in many kitchenware shops.
In 1994 Joyce Chen passed away. In 1998, she was inducted into the James Beard Foundation Hall of Fame. That same year the restaurant closed. Now, after countless requests from loyal customers her youngest son Stephen has brought her Peking Ravioli back for everyone to enjoy.