cecilia chiang — pioneer of Chinese food in SF

I have only recently learned of Cecilia Chiang.  She’s been written about quite a bit lately on SFGate for her lifetime achievements — James Beard Award, as well as being honored at the recent Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival. She is like the Chinese equivalent to Julia Child.  From living in a 52 room mansion in Beijing, to walking for 6 months with just her sister during war time in China, to her life in San Francisco, the more I read about her, the more I found her colorful life intriguing.

Her influence is around us much more then we know, or at least I knew.   The Chinese food we eat today was influenced greatly by her, as she brought real Chinese cuisine to San Francisco, which in the 1960s only consisted of ‘chop sueys’ and Americanized Cantonese food.  Even though she’s pretty much retired, her presence is still around us.  Her son, Philip Chiang, is the co-founder of the popular PF Chang’s (www.pfchangs.com).  She’s 93 years old and still full of energy and life, which I thoroughly admire.

Anyhow, just thought I’d share a tidbit about her..

Here is also an video and article, courtesy of insidescoopsf.com

Eye-Openers: How Cecilia Chiang came to America

Posted on 05/14/2013 at 8:51 am by Paolo Lucchesi in HeadlinesVideos

From the local scene:

  • By now, you’ve hopefully seen the Cecilia Chiang tribute video from the Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival. Above is another short documentary video on Ms. Chiang created by and for the James Beard Awards, which honored her at last week with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Whereas the Pebble Beach video focuses more on the Mandarin itself, this video tells the story of Chiang’s round-about immigration to America as well. Her son Philip Chiang (P.F. Chang’s) shares some tales, and there’s a cute scene where Chiang visits the Benu kitchen. She also shares some old rock star photos and recounts meeting John Lennon: “He had these funny looking glasses.” [James Beard]

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