Peng Chang-kuei

Peng Chang-kuei, the Chinese chef credited with creating General Tso’s Chicken, has died in Taiwan, according to multiple news sources. He was 98.

He died of pneumonia Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016, in Taipei, Taiwan, his son, Chuck Peng told The Associated Press.

Peng’s most famous creation, the sweet and spicy fried chicken dish, was created in 1952 and served to visiting U.S. Navy Admiral Arthur W. Radford. He told a story that the admiral was impressed with the entree and asked for its name – and Peng quickly made up the name “General Tso’s Chicken.” General Tso was a famous 19th-century military leader from Peng’s native Hunan Province in mainland China.

Peng carried the recipe with him when he opened a restaurant in New York City in 1973. His restaurant attracted a clientele from the nearby United Nations, including U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Soon rave reviews for his General Tso’s Chicken began appearing in the press.

“General Tso’s Chicken is so famous because of Henry Kissinger, because he was among the first to eat it, and he liked it, so others followed,” Peng said.

The dish is not a traditional Chinese recipe, but rather one geared toward American tastes with a sweet sauce and deep-fried, floured chicken. Its popularity spread beyond Peng’s restaurant and soon became a staple of American-Chinese cuisine. It later spread around the world but is virtually unknown in China.

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The 2014 documentary “The Search for General Tso” explored the origins of the dish and the history of Chinese immigrants in America.

Peng was born in Hunan Province where he studied cooking beginning at age 13. After World War II, he cooked for nationalist leaders and fled to Taiwan in 1949 when communists won the Chinese Civil War.

After closing his New York restaurant, Peng returned to Taiwan where he opened a chain of restaurants, which continue to operate today, serving Hunan-style food.

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