United States

Chinese Chef Who Created General Tso's Chicken Dies at 98

Hunan Chef Peng Chang-kuei brought the dish stateside in 1973, according to the New York Times

What to Know

  • The creator of General Tso's Chicken, Peng Chang-kuei, died at the age of 98 on Wedesday
  • Peng brought the dish stateside in 1973 with the opening of his restaurant, Peng's, on 44th Street
  • Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was reportedly a fan of the dish

Chef Peng Chang-kuei, the inventor of the iconic Chinese food dish General Tso's chicken, died at the age of 98 on Wednesday, the Taiwan News reports

His son, Chuck Peng, told the Associated Press that his father died Wednesday in Taipei, Taiwan's capital. The junior Peng runs the family's Taiwan restaurant chain, where his father still cooked until a few months ago.

The Hunan, China, native began training to be a cook at just 13 years old, according to the newspaper. By the end of World War II, he was in charge of running banquets for the Chinese Nationalist government. A military uprising forced Peng to flee to Taiwan, where he created his culinary magnum opus in 1952.

The world-renowned dish is composed of breaded chicken chunks tossed and fried in a thick, sugary ginger-garlic sauce. Broccoli, baby corn and carrots are sometimes added for extra flavor.

He named the dish in honor of Tso Tsung T'ang, a respected Hunan war general, according to the Taiwan News.

He has been honored by the government of Taipei, Taiwan's people, for passing on Hunan culture.

Peng brought his famous platter stateside in 1973 with the opening of his restaurant, Peng's, on East 44th Street, according to The New York Times. 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.

The New York Times published one of the earliest accounts of the dish in a 1977 feature story.

"General Tso's thicken [sic] was a stir-fried masterpiece, sizzling hot in both flavor and temperature," wrote food critic Mimi Sheraton.

A 2014 documentary called "The Search for General Tso" examined the origins of the iconic plate and the history of its eponymous military leader.

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