Black Sesame Kitchen developed out of founder Jen Lin-Liu’s passion for Chinese food. A Chinese-American writer, Jen is the author of two memoirs, Serve the People: A Stir-Fried Journey Through China (Harcourt, 2008), and On the Noodle Road: From Beijing to Rome with Love and Pasta (Riverhead Books, 2013).
After working as a foreign journalist in China for several years, Jen enrolled in a cooking school in Beijing, became a nationally certified Chinese chef, and interned in several Chinese restaurants. Her cooking experiences are told in lively, narrative fashion in her first book, Serve the People. After the book was published, she found a space in a courtyard residence on Black Sesame Hutong in central Beijing in 2008 and renovated it into an open kitchen and dining room where she invited friends to cook, wine, dine, and socialize. Since then, Black Sesame Kitchen has received numerous awards and honors, including being mentioned in 1,000 Places to See Before You Die and being named one of Asia’s Top Restaurants by the Miele Guide.
In the spring of 2014, Black Sesame Kitchen moved to The Orchid, a nearby boutique hotel, to offer its classic dining experience by private booking. One of Jen’s original cooking masters and a character in both of her books, Zhang Aifeng, continues to lead the team as Black Sesame Kitchen’s executive chef, along with dining manager Coco Yue.