Yang Bing-yi, the founder of popular Michelin-starred restaurant chain Din Tai Fung, has passed away at the age of 96.
The restaurant chain, which is known worldwide for its xiao long bao (soup dumplings), announced Yang’s death in a statement on Saturday without mentioning the cause of death.
Yang was born in China’s Shanxi province in 1927.
In 1948, at the age of 21, he boarded the Hualien
, a ship in Shanghai, to escape the Chinese Civil War. He reportedly emigrated to Taiwan with just $20 in his pocket.
Yang worked as a deliveryman for Heng Tai Fung, a cooking oil retailer in Taiwan, for around two years before the company’s owner promoted him. He then was put in charge of handling the retailer’s bookkeeping and managing its inventory.
In 1958, at the age of 31, Yang founded Din Tai Fung Oil Retail with his wife, Lai Pen-Mai, whom he married when he was 28 years old.
After a few years, Yang eventually converted a part of their store in Xinyi, Taipei, into a dumpling shop after their cooking oil sales took a hit in the early 1970s.
The shop’s xiao long bao became so popular that Yang and his wife decided to permanently close their oil business to fully focus on running a restaurant instead.
Din Tai Fung now has over 170 outlets in 13 countries and territories, including Singapore, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, Australia, the United States and the Philippines.
Yang’s restaurant chain earned its first Michelin star in 2009 and even notably hosted Hollywood star Tom Cruise at its outlet in Taipei 101 in 2013.
Before earning its Michelin star, around 17 people who worked at Din Tai Fung were invited by Taiwan’s then-Minister of Foreign Affairs James Huang to hold events in London and Paris in December 2007 as a way to introduce Taiwanese delicacies to other nations.
Yang’s family is requesting privacy as they arrange his private funeral.