Chain restaurants
Thumbnail Image

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.