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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Local Heavies to Celebrate Cecilia Chiang, the Julia Child of Chinese Cooking

Posted By on Wed, Sep 16, 2009 at 1:58 PM

click to enlarge Silent auction prizes include signed copies of Chiang's latest book.
  • Silent auction prizes include signed copies of Chiang's latest book.
Famed San Francisco restaurant owner, cooking teacher, and consultant Cecilia Chiang is being honored on her 90th birthday Friday with a banquet at Yank Sing Rincon Center (101 Spear at Mission). The eight-course menu was created by Chiang, whose Mandarin restaurant influenced generations of U.S. restaurateurs. Students Chiang has taught include Julia Child, James Beard, Alice Waters, and Danny Kaye. Since retiring from the Mandarin in 1991, Chiang has consulted for other restaurants, including Betelnut and Shanghai 1930. Waters has said that what Julia Child did for French cooking in America, Chiang did for Chinese cuisine.

In addition to dinner, the evening promises entertainment and a Chiang tribute, with an honorary committee of celebrants that, besides Waters, includes Thomas Keller, Margrit Mondavi, Gene Burns, Ruth Reichl, and Patricia Unterman. There's a silent auction for items like a 14-course dinner prepared by Chiang and a jet copter ride courtesy of KGO radio. The event starts at 6:30 p.m.

Unterman, author, food critic, and co-owner of Hayes Street Grill, told SFoodie that Chiang is "a force of nature in every way, a model for all of us in what it is to live an energy-infused life. She's going to be 90, and I can hardly keep up with her! Her absolute love of food, and life, and conviviality -- she's a natural in this business."

Tickets to the September 18 banquet are $200, with proceeds to benefit the Cecilia Chiang Scholarship Fund at the Chinese American International School. They can be purchased through the Chinese American International School Development Office at 861-0866, or by e-mailing

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