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General Tso’s Creator Dies, the Guy Fieri Effect, and More Intel

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The Metropolitan Opera House’s restaurant opens for brunch, plus more news and gossip from around NYC

[The dining room at En Japanese Brasserie in Soho]
[Daniel Krieger]

Peng Chang-kuei, the Chinese-born chef who claimed to have invented General Tso’s chicken, died on Wednesday. He was 98. A native of the Hunan province, Peng said that he created the dish in the early 50s while working as a banquet cook for the Nationalist government in Taiwan. The chef later brought his specialty to New York in 1973 with the opening of his restaurant, Peng’s, on 44th Street. In her 1977 review, Mimi Sheraton gave the dish its first-ever mention in the Times: "General Tso's thicken was a stir‐fried masterpiece, sizzling hot both in flavor and temperature." After failing to expand his restaurant group in New York, Peng returned to China in the 80s, where he opened a Hunan-style chain that flourished.

Pies ‘n’ Thighs is one of the many restaurants across the country that has seen an uptick in business after being featured on Guy Fieri’s long-running show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Co-owner Sarah Sanneh tells Thrillist: "We can always tell the day after our episode has been re-run....Like, all of a sudden we'll be slammed on some random Tuesday, then we'll realize, 'Oh, they just replayed our show…that makes sense.'"

The Food & Finance High School on West 50th Street hasn’t had working kitchens for its culinary students since June. An FDNY inspector told the principal that the school couldn’t use the equipment because of existing violations, while the School Construction Authority, which did some work on the kitchens over the summer, claims that everything should’ve been up to code. A rep for the Department of Education tells DNAinfo: "[T]he necessary repairs are being completed, and we expect all of the kitchens to be fully operational in the next month, pending an inspection by the FDNY."

Hungry City critic Ligaya Mishan visits Mala Project in the East Village, where hot pot stir fries can be ordered with four levels of heat: "I didn’t bother with ‘non-spicy.’ (What’s the point?) With ‘mild spicy,’ I got a sense of dimension and gentle warmth but no detectable buzz. Going up to ‘spicy,’ the boost in chile acted like a magnifying lens, articulating each flavor, and I started to purr."

— Fancy BrunchWire: The Metropolitan Opera House is opening its Grand Tier Restaurant for Sunday brunch starting December 4. This is part of a new initiative wherein the Met’s public spaces will be free and open to anyone on weekend mornings. The brunch menu is a $39 prix fixe with two courses and choice of beverage. Brunch at The Met will also feature a 20 minute recital by a member of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program.

After running into some issues with a space on the corner of Greenwich and Laight, The Greek’s owner Tom Galis has decided to apply for a liquor license for a new restaurant near the intersection of Washington and Watts in Tribeca. He still wants to open an all-day Mediterranean cafe.

Snow Story, a Thai-style rolled ice cream parlor in Forest Hills, closed after just five months in business.

— Le Bernardin ranked number one in the U.S. and number two in the world on La Liste, an annual French meta-ranking of restaurants around the world.

West 72nd Street Thai staple Lime Leaf has shuttered after a decade in business. DNAinfo notes that the landlord is asking for $15,000 per month in rent.

— And finally, here’s a look at how the Breads team makes the bakery’s sensational Nutella babka:

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