Peter Chang, the talented chef who came to the United States to work at the Chinese Embassy in Washington, was notorious for his ability to pop up for months at a time in unassuming, Americanized Chinese restaurants, often located in strip malls he chose in cities like Fairfax, Va.; Marietta, Ga.; Knoxville, Tenn., and then Charlottesville, Va., to name a few.
Chang would just as easily disappear again, leaving devoted fans in his wake, many of whom proceeded to track the chef down in yet another small Southern city.
Courting rave reviews for the vibrant and authentic Szechuan cuisine Chang produced in the kitchens of otherwise run-of-the-mill Chinese-American restaurants, the chef developed a close following and eager inquiries from food writers like “Where’s Chang? The Chef who Can't Shake his Followers,” Todd Kliman's car chase across three states in pursuit of "The Perfect Chef," and Pete Wells’ effusive profile of his talents, “Where Peter Chang Cooks, They Will Follow.”
As Wells points out, Chang is likely “the only chef in America whose Wikipedia entry contains a section called ‘Disappearances and movement.’”
For a time in 2011, Fox Searchlight Pictures was involved in the making of “a film based on Chang's movements and the group of followers who pursued him,” tentatively known as Where’s Chang.
Luckily for Chang’s devotees, the once-peripatetic chef seems to have settled down somewhat, although for Chang that means five restaurants throughout Virginia where he can cook at his leisure.
This week, the owner of Rockville Town Square in Maryland, Federal Realty Investment Trust, announced that Chang would open a 3,100-square foot restaurant in early 2015, according to the Washington Business Journal.
What’s more, Chang and his business partner Gen Lee are also reportedly planning to open a restaurant in Fairfax later this year, bringing Chang’s total restaurant count to seven.
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Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.