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The Search for General Tso

Directed by Ian Cheney

Program 8: Foodie Goody / USA / 2013 / Documentary / 71 mins / Cantonese, English, Mandarin Chinese, Shanghainese, Taiwanese / Colour / World Premiere

Program 8 – Foodie Goody

Cineplex Odeon International Village Cinemas
November 8, 2014 5:30 pm


A collaboration between filmmaker Ian Cheney (King Corn, The City Dark) and author Jenny 8 Lee (The Fortune Cookie Chronicles), The Search for General Tso is a feature-length documentary tracing the origins of Chinese American food through America’s most popular takeout meal–General Tso’s Chicken. Anchoring the film is an upbeat quest through small towns and big cities across America and Asia to understand the creation of Chinese American food and its top-selling dish. Who was General Tso? And why do nearly fifty thousand restaurants serve deep-fried chicken bearing his name? Using General Tso’s Chicken and its mysterious mastermind as a lens onto a larger story of immigration, adaptation, and innovation, the film follows a lighthearted journey through restaurants, Chinatowns, and the American imagination, punctuated by a lively soundtrack and shadow-puppet animations. Visits to present-day Chinese restaurants from New Orleans to Shanghai spark forays into the past, guided by chefs, scholars, and opinionated customers, as viewers find they’re on a search to a answer a deeper question: how did America’s Chinese food become so… American?

Director's Bio

Ian Cheney is an Emmy-nominated and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker currently based in western Massachusetts. He grew up in Massachusetts and Maine, and received Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Yale University. After graduate school, Ian co-created, co-produced and starred in the feature documentary KING CORN, which was released theatrically in 60 cities and awarded a George Foster Peabody Award in 2009. Ian subsequently directed the feature documentary THE GREENING OF SOUTHIE, featured in The New Yorker and on Good Morning America; TRUCK FARM, the story of urban agriculture in New York City; and THE CITY DARK, a feature documentary about light pollution and the disappearing night. He has recently completed work on THE SEARCH FOR GENERAL TSO, a feature documentary about American Chinese food, and is in production on BLUESPACE, a film about terraforming and the waterways of New York City. A visiting professor at the Università degli Studi di Scienze Gastronomiche, Ian travels frequently to show his films, lead workshops, and give talks about the human relationship to the natural world. To invite Ian to share a film or give a talk, contact


Writer: Ian Cheney
Producer: Amanda Murray


  1. Full Sriracha bottles


    Griffin Hammond / Program 8: Foodie Goody / USA / 2013 / Documentary / 33 mins
    The origin story of an iconic hot sauce, finally revealed.

    Preceded by: The Search for General Tso

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Dates & Times

Program 8 – Foodie Goody

Cineplex Odeon International Village Cinemas
November 8, 2014 5:30 pm