Madame Chiang and our daughter Izze in 2018

Photo by Jorma Kaukonen

My old friend Cecilia passed yesterday morning. I first met her in 1964 when I came up to San Francisco from Santa Clara as a young college student looking for some affordable good food. I wandered into her first restaurant, the Mandarin, which was on Polk St. back then. I was a young nobody, but she treated me with respect. We became friends and when I moved to San Francisco in 1965 and she moved the Mandarin to Ghirardelli Square I followed her there. Later on in life we would be neighbors in St. Francis Wood.

It was my great honor for her to meet our daughter Izze in 2018. Of course I considered any time spent with Cecilia to be an honor.

She was my friend… and I will miss her!


  1. Comment made on November 1, 2020 by Richard K

    Another great show from FPR last night..Larry was an extra treat..He sure does have big long fingers..You know what they say about men with big fingers..BIG GLOVES!!!

  2. Comment made on October 31, 2020 by Brian Doyle

    There were some excellent articles that came out with Cecilia Chiang’s death…She was an interesting person who turned hopelessness from cultural biases and lack of good english in to a challenge and won it in good style…Chiang realized that her upper class background in Peking exposed her to exotic Chinese foods that were superior to the gooey chop suey that Americans came to know as Chinese food…Knowledge is power and Chiang knew she could bridge all those handicaps by making those high-end Chinese dishes and offering them to the San Francisco public…Vision and dedication to going right from A to B and the rest would take care of itself…There’s people who struggle to think of a winning business model…Chiang beat them to it by simply knowing something they didn’t and knowing it would succeed…

  3. Comment made on October 31, 2020 by eaglesteve

    Sorry for your loss Captain. I will remember your old friend in my prayers.
    Happy Birthday Grace, and many more.

  4. Comment made on October 30, 2020 by Brendan Carroll

    Read late Ms. Chiang’s Times obit. Interesting woman. Lucky you to have her for freind. Obit mentions a documentary.

  5. Comment made on October 30, 2020 by Susan

    I am sorry for your loss, while happy for you to have had the experience of being Mme Chiang’s friend. Thank you for having shared her story with us.

  6. Comment made on October 30, 2020 by David Goldstein

    My Condolences.

  7. Comment made on October 30, 2020 by Ham Neggs

    On a lighter note Happy early birthday to Ms Slick and proving anything is possible a Jefferson Starship interview from fox. I may hold an Ethel to Tilley seance and ask Paul his thoughts. Peace✌🏻️❤️Love All Ways🔥🚲🌹🙏🏻🖖🏼

    @Ham Neggs

  8. Comment made on October 30, 2020 by Ken Hoyt

    When I saw this in the SF Chronicle I knew her story from your posts. While the words don’t suffice, we’re sorry for your loss Jorma.

  9. Comment made on October 30, 2020 by Ham Neggs

    May you and your loved ones be blessed with good grief.
    Peace✌🏻️❤️Love All Ways🔥🚲🌹🙏🏻🖖🏼

  10. Comment made on October 30, 2020 by JohnC.

    Sorry for your loss. 100 years is a good run, I hope we can all go that distance. And that’s a beautiful photo of her and Izze.

  11. Comment made on October 30, 2020 by George Henn

    Beautiful photo, Jorma.

  12. Comment made on October 30, 2020 by Dave G

    It never seems enough to say “I’m sorry for your loss,” but that is such a wonderful foto of 2 beautiful souls. It’s nice to hear those stories, thank you. Blessings.

  13. Comment made on October 30, 2020 by Brian Doyle

    I remember the original post where Jorma mentioned her…The Pho I now have when I want a light supper is probably indirectly due to her…

    Of note, Les Paul Trio guitarist Lou Pallo has also died…

  14. Comment made on October 30, 2020 by John R.

    Wow. Very sorry, Jorma. Thank you for this post.

  15. Comment made on October 29, 2020 by Kevin

    Condolences on the loss of an old friend.

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