Last week, Cecilia Chiang, often called the mother of Chinese cuisine in America, passed away at 100 years old. In Professor Paul Freedman's popular book Ten Restaurants That Changed America, he credits her for having "an immense effect on how Chinese food has been consumed and understood in the United States." Though Chinese food in America has long been stereotyped as being cheap and inauthentic, there has been a surge of interest in regional Chinese cuisine and increased appreciation for the diversity found within Chinese food.
At the same time, last month saw the release of the latest edition of the Michelin Guide in China. Though the awarding of Michelin stars continues to generate buzz and excitement, consumers continue to be perplexed by the disparate understanding of noteworthy cuisine. There remains a gap between how food and cuisine are appreciated in the East and in the West.
In honor of his dear friend, Professor Freedman will discuss the legacy of Cecilia Chiang on Chinese food in America, exploring the history of xenophobia and elitism in Western fine dining, as well as the role of restaurant rankings like the Michelin Guide in determining restaurant prestige in a globalized world.
Also joining the discussion will be Yong Zhao '08 MESc, Co-Founder and CEO of Junzi in New Haven and New York, a Chinese fast casual restaurant that has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and other major news outlets.