442: Bow Down to the Queen—of Chinese Food

Asian Communities, Diaspora

Today, Chinese restaurants are inescapable in the American culinary landscape. But it was not so when Sylvia Cheng (1915-2022), better known as Madame Wu, began her business. After moving to the USA during the Second World War, Cheng was disappointed with the quality of Cantonese food in the USA. After moving to Los Angeles with her husband King Yan Wu, she opened the 50-seat Madame Wu’s Garden in 1959. The restaurant would prove to be gathering point of many celebrities, from Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco, to Mae West, Cary Grant, plus Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow. Madame Wu ran every part of the restaurant like a boss and eventually moved to a 300-seat location in 1968. She died on Sept. 19, at the age of 106.

This article is published in JoySauce.