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Famed Restaurateur Madame Wu Sadly Died at 106


Famed southern California restaurateur Madame Wu is dead at the age of 106. She passed away on September 29, 2022, her family confirmed.

When Wu, her husband, and their kids moved from New York to Los Angeles, she was surprised to find inauthentic Cantonese dishes, and she wanted to change that. So.

In 1959, Madame opened up her first restaurant in Santa Monica, once her three children went off to boarding school, and Wu had some free time on her hands.

Madame Wu is dead at the age of 106.

Madame Wu’s Garden first began in a small location and upgraded to a much bigger site. She drummed up business for her restaurant by writing a letter to members of her church and asking one of her studio executive friends, to spread the word.

Her restaurant quickly became well-known for its celebrity clientele, which included celebs like Frank Sinatra, Mia Farrow, Cary Grant, Mae West, Elizabeth Taylor, Walter Matthau, Johnny Carson, Carol Burnett, Robert Redford, Tom Cruise, Paul Newman, and Steven Spielberg, among others.

In 1998, Madame Sylvia Wu closed the restaurant as hipper and more casual Chinese spots opened. At the time, Wu spoke of wanting to spend more time with her grandchildren, but it did not take long for her to come out of retirement.

She opened a new spot, Madame Wu’s Asian Bistro & Sushi, in the then-new Grove shortly after. It did not last nearly as long as the first, though people and fans still had affection for her.

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Restaurateur Madame Wu Dead at 106

Sources announced that Madame Wu is dead, but they did not reveal her cause of death. Her death was confirmed by her family.

Madame is survived by her two sons Patrick and George and numerous grandchildren. Her husband passed away in 2011. The pair had been married 67 years.

Sylvia Cheng was born on October 24, 1915, and grew up in Jiujiang, a city southwest of Shanghai. Wu learned to cook while watching the maid prepare meals for her well-to-do family.

Her family moved to Shanghai and then Hong Kong. During the second world war, Wu took an ocean liner to New York City.

“I don’t know how I had the courage. I had no family in America. The trip took 40 days, and because of the war there was a blackout all the way,” she later recalled.

While pursuing an education degree at Columbia University, Madame met King Yan Wu, a successful chemist. The two married and had three children.

The couple moved to LA, where King Yan Wu took an engineering job at Hughes Aircraft Co and Madame became a restaurateur.

She also wrote cookbooks, appeared regularly on TV, and became active with charity work, especially at City of Hope cancer center after her daughter, Loretta, passed away of breast cancer aged 34.

Madame Wu’s death has come as a shock to family and close friends. Her fans and friends expressed their deepest sadness and many fans also took to Twitter to send their condolences and tributes.

When she turned 100 in 2014, Madame’s old customers filled up a hotel ballroom for her birthday party.

One Twitter user wrote: “Madame Wu 106, famed Westside restaurateur who served the stars, dies. Born Oct. 24, 1915, Sylvia Cheng grew up in Jiujiang, a city southwest of Shanghai on the banks of the Yangtze River. Her well-to-do parents separated when she was a child and died while she was still young.”

Another user tweeted: “Madame Wu was a generous and caring friend to my mom for several decades. They met when my mom, a recent Chinese immigrant, went to Madame Wu’s restaurant for a taste of home. Madame Wu was an LA and Chinese American icon. 安息, Madame Wu.”

“Your smile and grace 🙏🏻 will be missed, Sylvia. Madame Wu, Famed Southern California Restaurateur, Dies at 106. She served dozens of Hollywood A-listers at her iconic restaurant Madame Wu’s Garden for decades,” Marsha Collier wrote.

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