S1 EP 8: Irene Li Knows Basic Business Knowledge is Power


Irene Li may be the baby of the bunch, but she’s is now at the helm of the sibling-founded restaurant and food truck catering company Mei Mei. After launching with a food truck in 2012, the family gave their creative, sustainably sourced Chinese-American cuisine a brick-and-mortar home in Fenway just one year later. Li, a Cornell grad, didn’t always plan to run a restaurant. Her previous work experience runs the gamut from writing to organic farming to prison education. But don’t let her non-traditional path fool you; Li’s accolades now include an Eater Young Guns Award, Zagat 30 Under 30 recognition, Bustle Upstart Award, YW Boston AWA Sylvia Ferrell-Jones Award, and five James Beard Foundation nominations for Rising Star Chef. In addition to serving on the boards of Haley House, Lovin’ Spoonfuls, CommonWealth Kitchen, and Project Bread, Li writes about food and the restaurant industry for WBUR’s The Artery.

Irene Li isn’t afraid to talk about privilege (especially her own), share her profit and loss statements with every employee, or disclose how difficult it can be to run a successful restaurant. Li is a chef and restaurateur who walks the talk, and it’s downright inspiring to hear how she and her team are working to make careers at Mei Mei as sustainable as the food. We’ve always loved Mei Mei for their addictively delicious take on Chinese-American cuisine; now we can’t get enough of Li’s unique perspective on the business of hospitality.

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Thank you to our season 1 sponsor, Winestyr.

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