Those new to S.F. and its food lore may not have heard of Cecilia Chiang, and that's a shame. The 94-year-old retired restaurateur, whose flagship Ghirardelli Square restaurant The Mandarin closed in 2006 after 40 years, is by many accounts single-handedly responsible for bringing high-quality Chinese cuisine to American diners.
An autobiography, The Seventh Daughter: My Culinary Journey from Beijing to San Francisco came out in 2007. And now there is this full-length documentary, Soul of a Banquet coming out this month, featuring Chiang as well as her famous friends like Alice Waters and Ruth Reichl talking about her food, and her "unstoppable" spirit. The film, by director Wayne Wang, is playing in select theaters and will be available for VOD and download (for $12.99) on October 21.