Cecilia Chiang, Bay Area Chinese culinary legend, dies

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON)- Cecilia Chiang, a trailblazing pioneer known for changing the Chinese food game in America, has died.

She was 100.

Chiang, whose son Phillip co-founded the national restaurant chain P.F. Chang’s, arrived in San Francisco from China in the 1950s to help friends open a restaurant.

Those friends ended up bailing out, leaving Chiang to do it all on her own.

That’s how The Mandarin – an iconic San Francisco restaurant on Polk Street – was born.

“I was the bus boy. I was the host. I was the one answer the phone making reservations. Everything,” Chiang told KRON4’s Pam Moore in an interview in 2019.

Chiang was one of 12 children living through Japan’s war with China, communism, and constant political turmoil.

Through it all, she got a college degree, was married, then changed her life in the U.S. all while touching the lives of others.

“She’s a role model as a business owner, as a leader, as someone who’s mentored so many people and she’s a true friend in every sense of the word,” said three-star Michelin Chef Corey Lee.

Among her many honors,  Chiang received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the James Beard Foundation.

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