Irene Li operates Mei Mei Street Kitchen & Mei Mei Restaurant in Boston, where her work centers around ethical sourcing and fair employment practices. The award-winning food businesses merge modern techniques and multicultural cuisine with local foods and sustainable business practices. Mei Mei has been featured by Food & Wine, Eater Boston & National, The New York Times, Restaurant Hospitality, People, Bon Appetit, The Boston Globe, and more. Irene’s background of living on an organic farm, organizing for economic and social justice, and working the restaurant line inform the direction of her creative, farm-driven, Chinese-American menus.
Above all, Irene believes food can and should be delicious, fun, and just. This year, Irene is leading her staff in a groundbreaking open book management training program in conjunction with Rethink Restaurants. She’s working to provide the entire team, from dishwashers to sous chefs, with valuable financial know-how and business management skills in addition to an opportunity for profit-sharing. She is an Eater Young Gun winner, Zagat and Forbes 30 Under 30 Honoree, and a four-time James Beard Foundation Rising Star Chef semi-finalist.