Chef Tim Ma has spent years honing his talents and honoring his family’s restaurant roots as a lauded chef, entrepreneur and non-profit founder. Ma shares his Chinese American heritage for D.C. diners at his restaurant Lucky Danger as well as with Laoban Dumplings available in grocery stores nationwide.
Tim Ma is a critically-acclaimed chef and food & beverage entrepreneur. Growing up in a family of restauranteurs, Tim’s family pushed him towards an engineering career as he earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and a Masters of Science from Johns Hopkins University. After a successful 8-year engineering career, Tim decided to pursue his passion for restaurants and left it all behind – selling everything he owned and moving to New York City – to attend the French Culinary Institute, now the International Culinary Center.
Following an externship at a 2-Michelin Star Momofuku Ko, and cooking at the highly regarded Momofuku Ssam, Tim moved to St. Thomas, USVI to cook and formulate the plan for what would be his first restaurant. In 2009, Tim purchased a restaurant found on Craigslist with his last remaining credit card, remodeled it with dear friends and family, and opened Maple Ave Restaurant on August 15, 2009.
Fast forward to 2013, Tim opened his second restaurant, Water & Wall, to rave reviews and Maple Ave was ranked the #1 restaurant in Northern Virginia. Always on the lookout for a sandwich, Chase the Submarine – Tim’s dream vision for a craft sandwich shop – was brought to life in November 2015. March 2016 saw the opening of Tim’s first DC restaurant, Kyirisan, which offered creative Chinese-French cooking in a modern, home-like setting, winning awards such as Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand, and an annual recurring spot in Washington Post’s Best Restaurants Dining Guide. Tim also joined as Culinary Director of healthy school meal delivery service Box’d Eats in 2017.
In April 2017, Tim was hand selected by Katherine Lo to partner with her to bring to life Eaton Workshop’s first and flagship hotel in Washington DC. Eaton Workshop is a global purpose-driven company from founder Katherine Lo at the intersection of culture, content, hospitality, wellness, and progressive social change. Chef Ma developed and opened seven food and beverage outlets within Eaton DC, including Wild Days Rooftop Club, Kintsugi Café, Allegory Cocktail Speakeasy, and American Son, the all-day restaurant that received rave reviews and a Michelin Bib Gourmand in its first year of operation.
In November 2019, Tim took over as Executive Chef of Prather’s on the Alley in the Mount Vernon Square neighborhood, and also signed on as Culinary Director for Laoban Dumplings, attaching his Chinese heritage and unique culinary perspective to the humble dumpling shop. Today, Laoban Dumplings counts almost 1000 grocery stores selling its unique dumplings in addition to its brick and mortar.
In the same month in 2019, his family was honored by the Smithsonian Museum of American History by including himself, his Uncle Paul, and their family heirlooms from their history of restaurants into the new “FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000” exhibit.
In November 2020, in the middle the pandemic, Tim founded Lucky Danger, an updated take on American Chinese take-out by a Chinese American. The concept received rave reviews by critics and guests alike, leading to 5-months of complete sell-outs every night, the cover of the Washington Post, New York Times Food section, the Wall Street Journal, among many publications. Lucky Danger currently has two locations in Arlington, VA, and Washington, DC.
In May 2021, he co-founded the Chefs Stopping AAPI Hate non-profit that was able to expand into 4 cities (NYC, DC, SF, Detroit) and raise over $200,000 in the fight against Anti-Asian hate. The non-profit was featured on the Today Show and Good Morning America, as well as culminated in Tim and his cofounder Kevin Tien speaking at the Solidarity Against Asian Hate Rally on the National Mall. In May 2022, Tim and Kevin were honored with the GMA Inspiration Award for the work with Chefs Stopping AAPI Hate.