Saying Goodbye to David Leong
Last night, inventor of Springfield-style cashew chicken David Leong died at the age of 99—just a month before what would have been his 100th birthday. He was known for combining Cantonese flavors with fried chicken that was attractive to Midwestern palates. The result was a dish that has come to define the local Chinese food scene and is a claim to fame for our city. A year ago, I interviewed David’s son Wing Yee Leong for a story about the history of Springfield-style cashew chicken and a recipe for how to make it at home. Wing talked about his father’s service in the U.S. Army and how he brought Cantonese cuisine to 417-land, ultimately inventing Springfield-style cashew chicken. In the story, Wing reflects on his father’s commitment to Leong’s Asian Diner. The story said: “As for David, he still has an active role in the business—keeping a watchful eye on the empire he created. ‘He comes in to work every day whether I ask him to or not,’ Wing Yee jokes.” David Leong, the inventor of one of Springfield’s signature flavors and the grandfather of Chinese cuisine in our city, will be missed.