The legacy of Cecilia Chiang, the ‘Mother of Chinese meals in America,’ who died at 100

Cecilia Chiang, the famed restaurateur who assisted introduce authentic Chinese foodstuff to America in the 1960s, died at 100 on Wednesday.

She acquired acclaim as the operator of the Mandarin, a revolutionary San Francisco cafe she opened in 1961 that served a lot of dishes that are now staples at Chinese places to eat across the place, like pot stickers, moo shu pork and sizzling rice soup, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, which very first documented her demise. Her granddaughter, Siena, confirmed her loss of life to the Chronicle, which named Chiang the “mother of Chinese foodstuff in America.”

Chiang, who ran the Mandarin from 1961 to 1991 in advance of promoting it, was credited by foods magazine Saveur in 2000 with “nothing much less than introducing regional Chinese cooking to The us.”

The restaurateur recounted her extraordinary journey to culinary fame in her 2007 memoir, “The Seventh Daughter,” with Lisa Weiss, which was the second of her two memoirs.

She was born in 1920 with the identify Solar Yun as one particular of 12 little ones in Shanghai and grew up in opulence in a 52-home palace in Beijing.

Nevertheless, the Japanese army occupation of the city that commenced in 1937 prompted her to flee with 1 of her sisters in 1943 to are living with relatives. The siblings created the nearly 1,000-mile journey to Chongqing mainly on foot, hiding from Japanese fighter planes for the duration of the day and going for walks at night time to get to the metropolis in cost-free China, Chiang explained to Eater in 2018.

“We did not even get damage, but some other learners died,” she said. “That’s an knowledge that you never ever forget.”

Chiang satisfied her spouse Chiang Liang in Chongqing and moved with him to Shanghai and then Tokyo, where she opened a productive restaurant identified as the Forbidden City.

Around 1960, she turned an accidental U.S. restaurant proprietor, as she place a $10,000 deposit on a store in San Francisco found by friends who backed out of the deal and remaining her on the hook for the non-refundable deposit.

Chiang made the decision to just begin the cafe herself by introducing People to the cooking of her youth.

KitchenAid(R) Culinary Demonstrations - Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival (Frazer Harrison / Getty Images for Food Network SoBe Wine and Food Festival)

KitchenAid(R) Culinary Demonstrations – Foods Community South Beach front Wine & Meals Competition (Frazer Harrison / Getty Pictures for Food Network SoBe Wine and Food items Pageant)

“They imagine chop suey is the only thing we have in China,” Chiang explained to NPR in 2017. “What a disgrace.”

She also became the exceptional female owner in an location of places to eat owned by adult males.

“I instructed them: ‘You men just check out me,”’ she instructed Saveur in 2000. “I am going to do it. And I am likely to do it really properly.'”

Business begun slowly and gradually prior to critics, which includes late San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen, started off singing the praises of the Northern Chinese cuisine, including kung pao hen and 2 times cooked-pork, according to the Chronicle.

She moved the restaurant to a larger sized room on San Francisco’s Ghirardelli Square in 1968 and afterwards opened a second Mandarin in Beverly Hills, California in 1975. The first Mandarin closed in 2006.

Chiang’s son, Philip, bought the Beverly Hills location in 1989 and co-launched the P.F. Chang’s restaurant chain, carrying on his mother’s amazing legacy.

“I believe I altered what common individuals know about Chinese meals,” she told the Chronicle in 2007. “They did not know China was this kind of a big region.”

A earlier edition of this tale was initial printed on

Stick to NBC Out on Twitter, Fb & Instagram.

Jacqueline M. Faulkner

Next Post

The Foodstuff on Cooking Exhibits Is not Generally Ready By the Host

Fri Jan 21 , 2022
Residence chefs and foodies have frequently turned to the Meals Community for inspiration for their future dish.  In excess of the yrs, lovers of the Foodstuff Community have voiced their favorite chefs and cooking shows. The a person secret followers generally marvel is, how do the hosts change out stunning […]

You May Like