Directed by IAN CHENEY/ A WICKED DELICATE FILMS PRODUCTION
THE SEARCH FOR GENERAL TSO is a documentary tracing the origins of Chinese American food through what is arguably one of the Western world’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 beyond to understand the origins and popularity 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 this Westernized dish and its mysterious mastermind as a lens onto a larger story of immigration, adaptation, and innovation, the film follows a lighthearted journey, grounded in cultural and culinary history, through restaurants, Chinatowns, and the American imagination. Visits to present-day Chinese restaurants spark forays into the past, guided by chefs, scholars, and the occasional opinionated customer. The film’s lively soundtrack and shadow-puppet animations contribute both whimsy and momentum, as viewers find they’re on a search to answer a deeper question: how did Chinese food become so… American?
About the filmmaker: Ian Cheney is an Emmy-nominated and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker currently based in western Massachusetts. 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. THE SEARCH FOR GENERAL TSO is his latest feature.