On December 23, 2020, Irene Der Yeh peacefully passed away at the age of 60 after fighting ovarian cancer for the last two years. Irene had been home in Boston, MA comfortably resting under hospice care. Her husband, David Yeh, was by her side.
Irene was a tireless perfectionist. She believed in always putting her best efforts forward and frequently worked through the night for her family, her colleagues, and her love of food. She was a selfless mother who actively supported her children, whether it was teaching math classes, attending jazz concerts, or setting daily rosters for five basketball teams.
She dedicated her entire career to the food industry. She was a staunch advocate for her test kitchen teams at Fishking, Quaker Oats, National Livestock and Meat Board, Specialty Brands, Ketchum, Villaware, Taste of Home, and Hoffman Media---and had her own food consulting business. In that time, she co-authored a cookbook called Skinny Beef and developed tens of thousands of recipes in media publications, equipment manuals, and marketing campaigns. In December, Hoffman Media officially renamed their kitchen the Irene Yeh Test Kitchen in honor of her impact and the legacy she leaves behind.
Irene truly found joy in food, remembering every recipe she ever made and every dish she ever tasted. She was a memorable pâtissier for family gatherings. But more importantly, she was passionately generous about sharing her knowledge with everyone around her. Even on bedrest this past Thanksgiving, she still planned every meal and video called to share cooking tips and techniques with her family of sous chefs downstairs.
Irene brought light and joy to people wherever she went and often made friends in the most unexpected places. She grew up in Southern California and went to school at UCLA and California State Los Angeles. After marrying David, she lived in California, Illinois, Wisconsin, Alabama, and finally, Massachusetts, where she resided in the home of her sister-in-law, Dr. Charlotte Yeh, as she received treatment from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Irene is survived by her husband of 35 years, David Yeh; her children, Nicholas Yeh and Bryanna Yeh; her father, Albert Der; and her four siblings, Allan Der, Dr. Channing Der, Elaine Jung, and Loid Der.
A celebration of her life will be held on Saturday, February 6, 2021, during the week of her birthday. Details for a virtual gathering will be forthcoming. Photos and stories of Irene will be shared on the Tribute Wall at the top of this page. Submissions are appreciated and can be posted directly on this site or shared via email to the family.
In lieu of flowers, gifts in honor of Irene may be made to one of the following organizations: