The Chef Who Created General Tso's Chicken Has Died

The Chef Who Created General Tso's Chicken Has Died

Peng moved to NY in 1973 and opened his own restaurant in Manhattan.

Peng's NY restaurant didn't last, but his chain of restaurants back home in Taiwan is still very popular. For decades, General Tso's chicken has been a mainstay in Chinese cuisine across North America. Following three days of traditional Chinese dishes, Peng said he wanted to try something different.

Even the eponymous General Tso's relatives, according to writer Jennifer Lee, had never heard of the chicken concoction.

Peng spent most of his life in the kitchen, first as a banquet chef for the Nationalists before they were ousted by Mao's Communists in 1949. News of his dish caught the attention of officials from the neighboring United Nations headquarters and dignitaries like former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

She notes that there is no evidence of such a claim - highlighted by the fact that no one she met in Hunan outside of highly-educated culinary elites had heard of the entree and that the dish differs significantly from traditional Hunan dishes - and attributes these attempts to "reclaim" a dish invented in Taiwan to "cultural embarrassment" on the part of the Communists.

The story of the delicacy is told in a 2014 documentary called "The Search for General Tso", which traces the roots of Chinese food in America through the iconic dish.

'I went to his hometown.

The General Tso appellation came about on a whim when Peng was asked for the name of the dish and he offered up the name of Tso Shih-hai, a respected 19th century Chinese military leader from Peng's home province.

The movie also questioned the actual origin of the dish, stating that several people could have had the same idea around the same time. Ironically, when Peng returned to Hunan to open a restaurant, the Americanized version of General Tso's chicken was received poorly by customers.

The dish, according to a 1977 account by the New York Times, "was a stirā€fried masterpiece, sizzling hot both in flavor and temperature".

The Hunan, China, native began training to be a cook at just 13 years old, according to the newspaper.

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