Meet the Chinatown Matchmaker Whose Memory Puts Your Dating Algorithm to Shame
Forget Tinder. Yingchen Lee pairs off Chinese singles the old-fashioned way.
Photos by Vincent Tullo
“Madam Lee,” or “Mom Lee” as people in Flushing, Queens know Yingchen Lee, has been a full-time Chinese matchmaker for 36 years, but she’s been setting people up for even longer. Born in Taiwan in 1955, Lee became a lab assistant at the National Defense Medical Center when she was 21. Lee began connecting her colleagues together when she thought there was a good match. Later, she gave up her job to emigrate to the United States and live with her mother and her mother’s brother, who had moved here in the 1960s. As a newcomer with limited proficiency in English, Lee had difficulties finding a well-paying job when she first arrived. So she decided to take her matchmaking hobby to the next level and turn it into a paid service within the Chinese community in Flushing. In 1980, when there were only a few players in the business, she began working full-time as a matchmaker. Even today, when most matchmaking agents use back-end computer systems to record information, a…