Chinese restaurants
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2016.037.007 Oral History Interview with Philip Chiang 2015/12/15

Philip Chiang was born in Shanghai, China in 1948. Within a year, his family moved to Tokyo, Japan to avoid Chinas communist regime. He lived in Japan until the age of 14. He valued Japanese culture and the emphasis on hospitality. In 1962, he moved to San Francisco. His family lived there before it became the known, multicultural city it is today. His family ate out frequently, and it gave him the opportunity to enjoy many different cuisines. He grew especially fond of Italian food. Cecilia Chiang, his mother, opened a Chinese restaurant called the Mandarin Restaurant. The Mandarin became known in San Francisco as a high-end Chinese restaurant; it served the stars of Hollywood. Though Chinese cuisine was not new in San Francisco, the Mandarin popularized a refined northern Chinese cuisine. Philip Chiang helped at the family restaurant but did not get interested in the business until he was married. He worked in design and wanted to make more money. Thus, in 1984, he opened the Mandarette. Compared to the Mandarin, Chiangs alternative was cheaper. His clientele was younger and more progressive; it suited the urban and artistic landscape. At the Mandarette, he met Paul Fleming. Fleming continued to support the Chiang familys businesses even when the Mandarette closed. Fleming asked Chiang to help him open a Chinese restaurant in Arizona. In 1982, the now chain restaurant, P.F. Changs, opened its first location in Scottsdale, Arizona. Throughout the years, Chiang maintains one value: food should be simple. He emphasizes recipes that have no more than three ingredients.



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2016.037.019 Oral History Interview with Wilson Tang 2015/10/30

Wilson Tang is a second-generation Chinese American restaurateur who was born in 1978 and grew up in Queens, New York. Before Tang was born, his parents decided to move out of Manhattans Chinatown to Queens to have a better family environment. Tang later found his way back to Chinatown when he attended college at nearby Pace University. After college, he went into a finance career, a path his parents strongly encouraged him to pursue. Tang quickly realized that the rat race of the traditional 9-5 job did not hold much appeal for him, and he began to consider entering the restaurant industry as his parents had done when they first immigrated during the early 1970s. Tangs first venture was a bakery opened in a building his father owned on Allen street. The bakery successfully ran from 2004 to 2007; however, success came at a steep price for Tangs personal health and well-being. Tang returned to the finance world in 2007 in order to regain control of his lifestyle and life-work balance. It was during this break from the restaurant world that Tang met his future wife and got engaged. In 2011 the opportunity to take over his uncle’s dim sum restaurant Nam Wah arose. More convinced than ever that the career of restauranteering was his true calling and despite the stress of his previous experience, Tang and his fiance decided to make the leap. The couple did some light renovations and refreshed the menu before opening, attempting to breathe new life into Nam Wah while preserving its historic atmosphere. As Nom Wah was renovated, Tang decided to create a Facebook page to document the long history of the tea parlor. The business received positive coverage from both the Daily News and the New York Times. As a result of this media coverage, business flourished and Nom Wah became a staple of Chinatown. Tang is grateful for the success he has experienced, but notes that the restaurant industry is still an incredibly demanding field. He hopes to use his success as a platform to elevate and support other Chinese American entrepreneurs and Chinatown businesses in NYC.



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2016.037.021 Oral History Interview with Kimmie Lee Tie

Kimmie Lee Tie discusses her early life in China and how World War II impacted her family and interestingly her diet. She talks about the experiences she had cooking on her familys small farm and how after the war she married a Chinese American sailor and moved to the United States. Living in the US, Kimmie and her husband bought a Cantonese restaurant in 1957 which they operated for twenty years. In this environment, she taught herself how to cook with a wok and developed her Chinese American tastes. Make sure to listen in for her personal recipes, especially her favorite butterfly shrimp.



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2016.037.022 Oral History Interview with Michael Tong 2016/03/11

Michael Tong describes his path from his birth of Anhui to becoming one of the most successful restaurateurs in New York City with two four-star restaurants. Moving first to Shanghai and Hong Kong before settling in the US, Mr. Tong studied civil engineering but chose to work in a NYC restaurant after graduation. From there, he opened up two restaurants, Shun Lee Palace and Shun Lee West, where he developed his love for different Chinese cuisines and helped bring Sichuan and Hunanese food to New York and the US. Tune in to hear his thoughts on what makes certain Chinese food authentic and his view of how Chinese food and American tastes have changed since the 1970s.



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2016.037.023 Oral History Interview with Ming Tsai 2015/10/19

Ming Tsai talks with MOCA about his lifelong relationship with food and how he came to be one of the most successful East-West fusion chefs. Listen in as Ming explains the role that food and cooking played in his early life growing up around his grandparents in a Chinese-American household and visiting Taiwan. Despite going to Yale for a degree in engineering, he ultimately decided to become a chef, and after working in several famous French kitchens and culinary schools, he pursued a hospitality degree at Cornell which launched him into hotel management. He eventually followed his dream of becoming a chef-owner at his own restaurant, Blue Ginger. Throughout the discussion, Ming weaves in beautiful anecdotes about food and his philosophy of how to blend cuisines successfully. He concludes his discussion with his thoughts on the importance of charity in his life and his experience using food for diplomacy.



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2016.037.024 Oral History Interview with Jason Wang 2015/10/23

Jason Wang was born in XiAn, China and moved to the U.S. when he was eight years old. Wang and his family lived in various suburban communities during his childhood while his father worked at different Chinese restaurants. Wang’s father eventually opened a bubble tea franchise that later evolved into their successful XiAn Famous Foods restaurant. After spending college breaks helping his father at the bubble tea shop and feeling ungratified by his post-graduation corporate job, Wang decided to begin his career as a restauranteur with his father. Wang helped his father update XiAn Famous Foods by translating its menu into English and creating a website for the business. The original Flushing, Queens location developed a solid fanbase and saw even greater success after Anthony Bourdain mentioned the eatery on his hit television show No Reservations in 2008. Since then, XiAn Famous Foods has expanded to over ten locations across New York City five boroughs. Wang is proud to have pioneered the previously unknown street cuisine of his hometown in America. He hopes that their “fast-casual” restaurant model will enable them to expand to other regions in the U.S. and introduce an increasingly adventurous American public to Xian classics like their iconic liang pi “cold-skin noodles.”



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2016.037.025 Oral History Interview with Doron Wong 2015/10/30

Doron Wong grew up in Boston, Massachusetts in a traditional Cantonese family. Wong father emphasized the importance of understanding their familys cultural heritage during Wong childhood. His first experience in the restaurant world was a job at a local pizzeria when he was a teenager. During high school Wong experience working at an Asian fusion restaurant solidified his desire to pursue a career in the culinary world. Wong attended culinary school before moving to New York City and working under renowned chef David Burke. Continuing his culinary career abroad, he further refined his skills in various Hong Kong and Singapore kitchens. Wong began working with celebrity chef Susur Lee while in Singapore, developing his Chinese cooking skills and later assisting Susur Lee with his first NYC restaurant, Shang. Wong hopes his Yunnan and Cantonese cooking will help dispel stereotypes about Chinese food in America.



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2016.037.031 Oral History Interview with Chris Yeo

Chris Yeo sits down with MOCA to talk about his experience leaving Singapore and coming to the US where he opened a series of successful restaurants. He explains his journey from opening a salon to becoming a restaurateur and several of the things that hes learned about cooking for American patrons. He discusses his family and how his cooking stems from a desire to please people. Chris also shares some anecdotes about his experience on Food Network and speaking at the Smithsonian institute.