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The Search for General Tso

The producers of King Corn quest after the origins of the ubiquitous dish General Tso’s Chicken, with enlightening and delicious results. The brisk and appetizing culinary detective story uncovers the history of Chinese food in America, as well as a tale of immigration, adaptation, and innovation.

Schedule
May 16, 2014
Friday
11:00 AM Date has passed

Director Ian Cheney scheduled to attend

May 17, 2014
Saturday
3:45 PM Date has passed

Director Ian Cheney scheduled to attend

May 18, 2014
Sunday
6:30 PM Date has passed

General Tso's chicken, a stir-fried blend of fried chicken, vegetables, and a sticky sweet and spicy sauce, is a staple of every takeout Chinese food restaurant in the United States, making it one of the most popular and profitable dishes in the country. Of the more than fifty thousand restaurants serving the dish, none of them seem to know for sure if General Tso himself originated the recipe or how it become so prevalent. The Search for General Tso  is a brisk and entertaining culinary detective story that uncovers the surprising, enlightening, and appetizing history of Chinese food in America, as well as a tale of immigration, adaptation, and innovation. In addition to interviewing chefs, cultural scholars, the world’s foremost Chinese takeout menu collector, and "The Fortune Cookie Chronicles" author Jennifer 8. Lee, director Ian Cheney also travels the globe to discover the origins of the dish. Starting with China's Hunan Province, home of General Tso namesake Zuo Zongtang, the story then moves to San Francisco, where Chinese cuisine was first embraced by Western taste buds, and then into the Midwest, where takeout culture exploded. Eventually, we meet the bemused and befuddled mastermind behind the dish, who is genuinely surprised by how prevalent his recipe has become.

Director Biography

Ian Cheney grew up in Massachusetts and Maine, and received both his Bachelor’s and his Master’s degrees from Yale University. Member of the Yale Student Environmental Coalition and founder of the Yale Sustainable Food Project, his parallel passions for food, sustainable living, and film caused him to make such documentaries as King Corn (2007), and The Greening of Southie (2008).

Sponsored by E. & J. Gallo Winery

Director: Ian Cheney
Country: USA, China, Taiwan
Year: 2014
Running Time: 73 minutes
Producer: Amanda Murray, Jennifer 8. Lee
Cinematographers: Ian Cheney, Taylor Gentry
Editors: Frederick Shanahan
Music: Simon Beins, Ben Fries
Website: Official Film Website
Filmography: The City Dark (Doc, 2011); Truck Farm (Doc, 2011); The Greening of Southie (Doc, 2008)
Language: English, Chinese
Subtitles: Yes
Format: HDCAM
International Sales: Cinetic Media, Cargo Film and Releasing
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