Meet The Julia Child Of Chinese Food In America

Egg drop soup, chop suey, sweet and sour everything that pretty much sums up the sorry state of Chinese food in America before Cecilia Chiang came along. "People's impression about Chinese restaurants was that they were filthy and oily with no décor and service," as Chiang once put it in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. She made it her mission to change all that. Her San Francisco restaurant, The Mandarin, which opened in 1961, introduced U.S. diners to things like red-cooked pork and pot stickers and gets a lot of credit for elevating people's expectations of Chinese dining in general.

Chiang's story is the subject a new film, titled Soul of a Banquet, from Wayne Wang, director of The Joy Luck Club. The movie, which includes commentary from acclaimed chef and author Alice Waters and former Gourmet editor Ruth Reichl, opens in select theaters on Oct. 21. Advance special screenings are also scheduled for New York on Oct. 19 and 20, with appearances by Chiang and other food world luminaries, including chefs Jonathan Wu, Danny Bowien and Anita Lo. (RSVP for the Oct. 20 event at Brooklyn's Bruce Cost Ginger Ale Factory here.)

Check out the trailer below:

Read more about Chinese food on Food Republic:

  • Meet The Moo-Goo Guru, Ed Schoenfeld
  • There's A Documentary About The History Of General Tso's Chicken!
  • This Is How Fortune Cookies Are Made.