Chef Peng Chang-kuei, the founder of the famous Hunan-style restaurant chain Peng's Garden Hunan Restaurant and inventor of the world famous Chinese dish General Tso's Chicken, died on Nov. 30 at the age of 98 from pneumonia.
A native of Changsha, Hunan Provence, at the age of 13 he began training under the tutelage of the famous Hunan chef Cao Jing-chen, who was the family chef of Tan Yan-kai (譚延闓), the prime minister of the Nationalist government from 1926 to 1928. After WWII, he was put in charge of running Nationalist government banquets, and in 1949 he fled to Taiwan after the Nationalist forces were defeated by the Communists in the Chinese Civil War.
According to an interview with the China Times, Peng says that his most famous dish was created in 1952 during a four-day visit by U.S. Seventh Fleet commander Admiral Arthur W. Radford. After three days, he had served the guests most of his repertoire of dishes, so to try and mix things up a bit, he had some chicken left and decided to chop it up into big chunks, fry it to a golden hue and then added a different combination of sauce and seasoning to create a new dish.