Joyce Chen


1958 – 1998


617 Concord Ave. and 390 Rindge Ave. locations


Ambitious Mandarin Chinese restaurants



Mass. Ave.'s Hong Kong holds the title for Chinese restaurant longevity in Harvard Square, opened in 1954; however, the departed Joyce Chen's holds indisputable importance in American culinary history. In the same era Julia Child was changing America's palates through French cooking, "the Chinese Julia Child," was doing just that with regional Chinese. At her flagship 400-seat Concord Ave. restaurant, then in 1973 at her 10,000 square foot Rindge location, Boston's first real celebrity restaurateur introduced Peking Duck, Hot & Sour Soup, and Moo Shu Pork to American palates. She aspired to make Mandarin ingredients and utensils accessible to the American public. A perfect example of Chen's ethos is her coining of the term "Peking Ravioli," making the pan-fried meat potstickers a household word in Boston and beyond. As a descendant of a war hero in China, she was granted unique importing privileges during a time of tension between U.S.-China, allowing her to stand out as a pioneer in her field. Joyce Chen Foods imported and sold lines of kitchenware, while she published The Joyce Chen Cookbook and even had her own televised show, filmed at the same WGBH studios as Julia's "French Chef." The onset of Alzheimer's Disease in the early 1980s took away Joyce Chen’s ability to run the day to day operations of her restaurants. The last Joyce Chen Restaurant closed in October 1998 after a 40 year successful run. In the words of a former Harvard President, Joyce Chen's will be remembered as "not merely a restaurant, but a cultural exchange center."

Joyce Chen's legacy lives on in a number of restaurants in the Boston area that were started by former chefs that worked in her kitchens and online at

Photo courtesy of the Cambridge Historical Commission