General Tso’s chicken inventor passes away

Peng Chang-kuei (彭長貴)

Taiwanese founder of Pengyuan restaurants and the inventor of General Tso’s chicken (左宗棠雞), passed away in Taipei, Taiwan on Nov. 30.

He was 98.

Peng started out as an apprentice of Cao Jingchen, a famous early 20th-century Chinese chef. After his apprenticeship, he began developing his own takes on Hunan cuisine.

Peng first cooked General Tso’s chicken in 1952 for a banquet to welcome US Admiral Arthur W. Radford to Taiwan. The admiral loved the fried chunks of chicken with sauces and seasoning. When he asked the name of the dish, Peng christened it on the spot: “General Tso’s Chicken.”

The real-life figure behind the name is Gen. Zuo Zongtang, a revered 19th century military man from Hunan.