Madame Wong, chef (1905 – 2008)

May 29, 2008

Madame Wong: photo by Roger Bourland (LA)

Madame Wong was a great lady and family friends that I was lucky enough to meet through my extended family. She came to my 50th birthday party and sat and made pot stickers for hours with the greatest concentration. I’ll never forget a dinner I had at the Shiplacoffs where she turned to me and held out the underside of her arm and said “feel it.” I was a little shocked but went along. “Mmm, smooth!” I offered. “Bok choy” she responded. “Eat one bok choy a day and you will always have beautiful skin.” I can’t say that I followed her advice, but I do like bok choy quite a lot. Daniel sent me her obit which I share here along with a photo I took of her some years back.

Madame S. T. Ting Wong, a pioneer Chinese cooking teacher, taught cooking for over 40 years in Shanghai, Hong Kong, New York, and Los Angeles, CA. Born in Shanghai, she taught cooking classes in China before resettling in the United States. Wong became a legend while teaching at the UCLA Extension as her classes were usually jam-packed. Those who were on the waiting list were never able to get into her classes since regular students continued to enroll over and over again. They came for the wonderful food and for Wong’s no-nonsense philosophy. Her mantra in life is “Be optimistic, ignore bad things, love people, think of others more, and of course, eat well-balanced meals.” Bean curd and bok choy were her favorite foods. What really kept her going in life was her wide circle of friends, many of which were former students who inspired her. Wong’s former students included Barbara Streisand, Michael Caine, Dinah Shore, Linda Evans, Debbie Reynolds, and Wolfgang Puck. At the time, she did not realize Barbara Streisand was in the class until university officials told her. Wong also taught Wolfgang Puck how to make crispy duck at his restaurant, Chinois.

In the 1970’s, she wrote and published “Madame Wong’s Long-Life Chinese Cookbook.” A second book, “More Long-Life Cooking from Madame Wong,” was published in 1982.

Wong was married and lost her husband in her early thirties. She had two sons, Allan and David, who also passed away very early in life. She is survived by her granddaughter, Angelina Yu and great grandchildren Christopher and Natalie.

Wong passed away peacefully at her home in Santa Monica, CA on May 19, 2008. Prior to her passing she did what she loved to do best, which was eating a good meal.

Funeral services are scheduled for 5/25/2008, Sunday at 1:00pm at Pierce Brother’s Westwood Village Chapel. 1218 Glendon Ave. Los Angeles, Ca. 90024 (310)474-1579

Speakers at the service will include;
Dr. Gary Alan Dickey
Angelina Yu
Gail Reingold
Connie Russell
Lloyd Cotsen

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