Chef Mei Lin on How to Become a Top Chef at Home
Chef Mei Lin: Mastering the Art of Home Cooking
How Technology Can Help You Tap Into Your Inner Chef

There is no shortage of accolades when it comes to Chef Mei Lin. The Top Chef: Boston alumnus, who was also a contestant in the fourth season of the Food Network’s Tournament of Champions has not only continued to keep her fans entertained by documenting her culinary escapades on social media, but by feeding them as well. In 2021, the Los Angeles-based Lin opened a fast-casual restaurant, Daybird, in Silverlake to critical acclaim. Best known for its Szechuan Hot Fried Chicken sando that features a juicy fried chicken thigh tucked into a potato bun and topped with pickles and a light cabbage slaw, the delicious sandwich is just the latest culmination of Lin’s ongoing culinary journey.

Born in Guangdong, China, Lin emigrated with her family as an infant and spent most of her childhood in Dearborn, Michigan. She grew up working alongside her mother and father at their family-owned and -operated Chinese restaurant, where she learned the fundamentals of being a well-rounded cook as well as how to run a restaurant. Throughout her appearances on television and elsewhere, Lin has exhibited an elevated take on classic Asian dishes. This was especially so at Nightshade, the restaurant she opened in 2019, which closed due to the pandemic. Apart from being named one of the best new restaurants by GQ magazine, Eater National and Food & Wine, who also highlighted her Shrimp Toast as Dish of the Year, Nightshade’s concise and adventurous point of view will be cherished and missed, not least for its Mapo Tofu Lasagna, with pasta made in-house. 

Even without her professional chef’s hat on, food is very much at the heart of Lin’s life. ‘Cooking in a restaurant is a bit more involved than cooking at home for me, but the same techniques are always utilized at home and at work,’ she says. ‘Steaming is a technique that I love using at home, as well as at work. Dishes like mapo tofu, I make at home all the time. It’s the ultimate comfort food. I’m currently obsessed with all the different ways you can make tofu. You can set soy milk with a bunch of different methods and they’re all delicious in different ways.’

One of Lin’s most cherished appliances at home is her stove - Dacor’s 48-inch gas range, which comes with a built-in airfryer and air sous vide technology, is the perfect companion as she continues to rethink and modernise Asian cuisine. The range’s air fryer tray, which utlises hot air circulation to envelop food, gives fried food a healthier twist without the need for oil. The air sous vide cooks vacuum-packed foods at low temperatures so that moisture is retained in every delicious bite. 

‘Not only is it sleek, it is a workhorse and produces the most delicious meals,’ she says, adding that the range’s Dual Four-Part Pure Convection feature reduces cooking time and ensures consistency with zero flavor transfer by distributing heat evenly throughout the oven. ‘Due to the high performance of Dacor’s stove, I was able to develop a porchetta recipe that wouldn’t have been possible without it. The convection fan is truly state of the art.’

For anyone looking to get restaurant quality results at home, Lin makes two simple recommendations that promise to be a gamechanger for budding top chefs. ‘Dacor’s hood! Although mine is concealed, it’s insanely powerful and sucks up all the smell and prevents your fire alarm from going off!’ Another essential item is its fully integrated dishwasher. She says, ‘My dishwasher has an Express 60 setting that is really useful for the time savings! Something that we all need at home!’

With less time spent on dealing with the mundane details around cooking, you’ll have more time to let your creativity in the kitchen shine.

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