Chiang was visiting San Francisco when she got roped into opening a restaurant.
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Cecilia Chiang is credited with introducing Americans to the taste of authentic Chinese food, though that wasn't her initial plan.Chiang wasn't a chef and hadn't intended to be an American restaurateur. In time, that business grew into the city's famed Mandarin restaurant, forever changing Chinese food in America.Chiang's life is the subject of a new documentary film, "Soul of a Banquet," directed by Wayne Wang (who also directed "The Joy Luck Club").The film – an unfinished version of which was screened during the weekend at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival – weaves in details of Chiang's life in China before she came to the U.S., as well as her family's struggles while she was running the Mandarin.Chiang retired and sold the restaurant in 1991 (it closed down about 15 years later).Chiang still enjoys cooking authentic Chinese food for herself, as well as teaching the cuisine to young chefs.
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