It often surprises people to learn that Jim Becker, who began cooking in restaurants at the age of 16, speaks fluent Mandarin and Cantonese. But then, Jim is full of surprises. After earning a degree in Asian studies at the university of Vermont, and years of intensive language training in Taiwan, Jim decided to indulge his life-long passion, and enrolled in the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts, from which he graduated with high honors.
Jim went to work for Lydia Shire when she opened her landmark restaurant BIBA in 1990, and, after three years returned to the Cambridge School, this time as an instructor in the Professional Chef Degree Program, where he developed the Asian component for the program.
In 1998, after a stint as Executive Chef at Rustica, a pan-Mediterranean restaurant in Belmont, Jim tapped into his many years summering in Spain when he opened his first solo venture, Rauxa Restaurant and Cava Bar in Somerville. His menu of evocative dishes inspired by the rustic tradition of Catalan cooking found in Mediterranean Spain and Southern France drew raves from Boston diners and the food community alike, along with two Best of Boston awards, two Wine Spectator awards, and an invitation to cook at the James Beard House n New York.
After a year as Executive Chef at Taranta Cucina Meridionale in the North End, Jim began freelancing, a journey which eventually landed him on the doorstep of Michele Topor, where he began working as a Tour Guide for the North End Market Tours.
Although Jim has a great knowledge of Mediterranean food it was easy to recognize that his knowledge and passion for Asian cuisine surpassed that, hence — a new tour was developed. Today, Jim enjoys nothing better than weaving his way through the narrow streets of Boston’s “Little Italy” or “Chinatown”, leading visitors in walking cooking classes, where he is able to combine his love of food with his passion for teaching.