Inventor of famous American-style Chinese dish General Tso’s chicken passes away

Peng Chang-kuei, the Taiwanese founder of Pengyuan restaurants and the inventor of General Tso’s chicken, passed away on Nov. 30 at the age of 97, after a month-long hospitalization. According to Peng’s son, General Tso’s chicken brought annual profits of over 2 billion RMB to American-style Chinese restaurants.

Peng started out as an apprentice of Cao Jingchen, a famous early 20th-century Chinese chef. After his apprenticeship, he began developing his own takes on Hunan cuisine. According to his family, Peng first cooked General Tso’s chicken in 1952 for a banquet to welcome an American commander to Taiwan. However, it was not until the 1970s that the dish was named after General Tso.

Peng Chang-kuei

Peng immigrated to America in 1973. After Ieoh Ming Pei invited Kissinger to Peng’s restaurant, Kissinger became a regular customer – all thanks to Peng’s signature dish. Kissinger’s patronage soon made the dish famous, after ABC did a report on it. Before long, the dish gained popularity among Americans and began appearing on many Chinese restaurant menus around the country.

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