Born in China, Mei Lin and her family immigrated to the US when she was an infant. They planted roots in Dearborn, Michigan, where Lin grew up working alongside her mother and father at their family-owned and -operated Chinese restaurant; and where she learned the fundamentals of being a well-rounded cook and how to run a restaurant.
In January 2019, she opened Nightshade in the Arts District of Los Angeles, which was the culmination of her personal culinary history and was met with rave reviews. Since opening, the restaurant had earned much critical acclaim: being named one of Food & Wine’s Best New Restaurant, along with the Shrimp Toast being highlighted as Dish of the Year; and earning a spot as one of GQ Magazine and Eater National’s Best New Restaurants in America as well as 2020 JBF Best Chef California & Best New Restaurant Nominations. The menu featured a concise point of view, with much of it showcasing an elegant elevation of classic Asian dishes, such as her Mapo Tofu Lasagna with pasta made in-house. It has since closed.
Prior to opening, she cut her teeth at many revered restaurants, but credits most of her formal training and refinement of skills to her time at Wolfgang Puck’s Spago in Las Vegas and Michael Voltaggio’s ink. in Los Angeles. As part of the opening team at ink., she quickly moved up the ranks, as a sous chef. Lin also logged time with Bryan Voltaggio at VOLT in Frederick, MD as a sous. She earned the title of Top Chef on Bravo TV’s Emmy-winning show to much acclaim. Previously, she earned a spot on Zagat’s 30 Under 30 list in 2015; won her episode in Esquire TV’s Knife Fight; and was selected as one of Eater’s Young Guns, both in 2014.
Lin opened her fast-casual Szechuan Hot Fried Chicken restaurant, Daybird, to critical acclaim.