Mimi Sheraton was born into a food-loving family in Brooklyn. Her mother was an excellent cook and her father was a commission merchant in the Washington Market, a wholesale produce market. Growing up she was surrounded by talk of good food and cooking, where to find the best fruits and vegetables and how to recognize them. Though food was always her love and her hobby it did not immediately become her vocation.
At the NYU School of Commerce she majored in marketing and minored in journalism, graduating to find work writing home furnishings copy at an advertising agency. She continued writing about home furnishings at Good Housekeeping until she attended the New York School of Interior Design and became a certified professional decorator, eventually becoming home furnishings editor of Seventeen.
It was at Seventeen that Sheraton's lifelong interest in food began to blossom. While traveling for her duties as an editor, she researched furniture designers, china, and silver factories, but for herself she researched food. She went to restaurants and markets all over the world, taking photographs, tasting everything, and returning to the States with specialized cooking and serving utensils and cookbooks. At the time she was sharing an office with the food editor, and she soon began to experiment in the adjoining test kitchen. Not long after that Sheraton became Seventeen's food editor.
Sheraton continued to write about food when she moved to House Beautiful as the managing editor of their supplements division. Succumbing wholeheartedly to her passion for food, Sheraton spent the next 20 years traveling the world and freelancing. As a freelancer she produced food and design themed exhibitions for the Hallmark Gallery such as "Bread & Wine," "Celebrations," "Design: Italian Style," "American Needlework, Past & Present," and "Antique Tools." Sheraton did menu research for Restaurant Associates when they were designing the Four Seasons and Zum Zum.
She also developed patient and coffee shop menus and recipes at NYU Hospital and served as a consultant to Georg Jensen. In 1960, Sheraton gathered folk art for Jensen, did food research for Restaurant Associates, and traveled around the world in four and a half months to write "City Portraits," a guide to 60 cities, all in one trip.
Sheraton has taken cooking courses at the China Institute in New York and Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and studied with private teachers in Copenhagen, Beirut, Phnom Penh, and Istanbul. Her columns about food have been published in many magazines, including Town & Country, The Village Voice, Eros, Esquire, Mademoiselle, and Coronet.
In December of 1975, Sheraton became the food critic at The New York Times, where she remained for eight years. Upon leaving the Times in 1983, Sheraton went on to serve as a food critic and reporter for Time magazine, spending three weeks in China to do a major report on food. For Condé Nast Traveler she flew "business class" around the world to report on the food of 11 different airlines, and traveled around the United States for one year to find candidates for the annual Distinguished Restaurant Award that the Traveler gives to 50 U.S. restaurants each year. Since that time Sheraton has also written for Harper's Bazaar, Vogue, Audubon, The New York Times Magazine, The Sophisticated Traveler, and Smart Money.
She has lectured on food criticism at Cornell's Hotel and Restaurant School and at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, California. For her work in New York magazine, Sheraton won a Penney-Missouri Journalism prize and has won a Front Page Award for her work in The New York Times. Most recently she published the cookbooks The Whole World Loves Chicken Soup: Recipes and Lore to Comfort Body and Soul in 2000, The Bialy Eaters in 2002, her memoir Eating My Words: An Appetite for Life in 2006.