We can’t really claim Peter Chang as a Knoxvillian for one major reason: He’s already vamoosed. But the ever-moving Chinese chef with a national following that tracks his every culinary stop did have a long Knoxville stay as the chef of Hong Kong House—the Chinese restaurant in the strip mall with the TJ Maxx on Kingston Pike. You may have asked yourself, “How did the former chef for the Chinese Embassy end up here?”
Now you can find out: Calvin Trillin, one of our nation’s finest food writers, investigates Chang’s worshipful posse in an article entitled “Where’s Chang?” in the March 1 New Yorker. He presents the theory that Chang keeps changing restaurants because of “...people who, radiating delight at being in the new place to be, demand a reduction in spice in a dish that’s designed to be spicy... So could it be that the necessity of cooking inauthentic food is what drives Chef Chang away? But why would someone who dreads cooking anything but authentic Szechuan cuisine move to Knoxville?”
Chang is now cooking for Taste of China in Charlottesville, which presents similar questions.