New England Cuisine in 2018 -- and Beyond

A conversation with Marc Sheehan, Irene Li and Fred Opie

Curated by Leah Mennies

What is New England cuisine today, how has it been expressed locally in Boston restaurants, and how is it perceived on the national culinary stage? This conversation will explore how we define New England food today, what it means to showcase a culinary sense of place in an increasingly globalized world, and the opportunities that exist when it comes to regional storytelling in Boston.


This panel will be moderated by Leah Mennies, a local food journalist and author of the recent Boston magazine feature "Why Don't New Englanders Like New England Cuisine?," an exploration of the various ways that New England cuisine has been pigeonholed in Boston restaurants--and how it could be reconsidered for the future. 


As usual, the talk is free.

Door: 6:00pm / Talk: 6:30pm


January 16, 2019




Marc Sheehan
Chef/Owner, Loyal Nine, Cambridge

For Milton native Marc Sheehan, food was always a central part of creating a festive atmosphere. You could even say it was in his blood. Going back 3 generations, then men on his father's side have always cooked. In spring of 2015, Sheehan opened Loyal Nine in East Cambridge, MA. Acknowledged by Bon Appetit, Eater and the James Beard Foundation, Loyal Nine continues to strive to provide Cambridge and all of New England with the most convivial and authentic Northeast Coast experience in the region.

Irene Li
Operator, Mei Mei, Boston

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 Meiʼs creative, farm-driven, Chinese American food has been featured in Food & Wine, Eater Boston & Eater National, The New York Times, Restaurant Hospitality, People, Bon Appetit, The Boston Globe, and more.

Fred Opie
Professor of History and Foodways, Babson College, Wellesley

Fred Opie is an athlete-turned author, producer, Babson professor, and editor. His most recent book is Southern Food and Civil Rights: Feeding the Revolution. He is the Food Historian on the PBS show Cooks Country. You can learn more about his work at

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