Chef Peter Chang, hails from a tiny, secluded village in the Hubei province (“not even a village,” as he affectionately remembers it). A young Peter would take an interest in the kitchen to ensure he would always have enough to eat. His specialty is gourmet Szechuan cuisine, which features pungent, bold tastes and the liberal use of onions, garlic ginger and chili peppers. After graduating at the top of his class from the Szechuan Higher Institute of China, Chef Chang would continue to hone his culinary skills in several freelance positions, eventually meeting his wife Lisa. He and his family would travel to America in 2001 when he was selected as the personal chef for the Chinese ambassador. Among the highlights of his tenure at the embassy was preparing a meal for Chinese President Hu Jintao.
Upon completion of his service at the embassy, Chef Chang would travel and work in various restaurants across northern Virginia, developing a devoted fan base among area diners. Once the fervor over his cooking grew too intense, he would vanish, often without warning and in the middle of the night. “Changians,” as his followers would call themselves, would do their best to track down his latest whereabouts to once again sample his signature Szechuan cuisine. His journey across the state and excellence in the kitchen would be chronicled in The New Yorker article “Where’s Chang” and The New York Times piece “Where Peter Chang Cooks, They Will Follow.”
Chef Chang would finally yield to the wishes of his patrons and open the very first Peter Chang restaurant in Charlottesville, VA in 2010. The response was tremendous, and soon five more restaurants would open, including Fredericksburg, Short Pump, Williamsburg, Virginia Beach, Arlington and the newest location in Rockville, Maryland.
Chef Chang enjoys lending his time and expertise for the benefit of a number of philanthropic causes, including Sips & Suppers, Chefs for Equality and the James Beard Foundation. Most notably, Peter Chang and his Restaurants were nominated for a James Beard Award as Best Chef in America in 2016, and was recognized as a Semi-Finalist in 2015 for the Mid-Atlantic Region.
Today, Chef Chang can be found in any one of his restaurants, preparing meals and chatting with diners about their favorite dishes. Will you be fortunate enough to chase him down?