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From 20 dollars in his pocket to a dumpling empire: Din Tai Fung founder dies, age 96

<i>Chen Xiaomei/South China Morning Post/Getty Images</i><br/>Steamed pork dumplings served at Din Tai Fung's Hong Kong branch.
South China Morning Post via Get
Chen Xiaomei/South China Morning Post/Getty Images
Steamed pork dumplings served at Din Tai Fung's Hong Kong branch.

By Heather Chen, CNN

The founder of one of the world’s biggest dumpling empires has died.

Yang Bing-yi, who set up the Taiwanese restaurant chain Din Tai Fung, “passed away peacefully” at the age of 96, the company said in a statement Saturday.

It did not mention the cause of death but said that private funeral arrangements were underway and that the family has asked for privacy.

Born in 1927 in China’s northern Shanxi province, Yang immigrated to Taiwan when he was 20 “with 20 dollars in his pocket,” the company said.

He opened a small shop in Taiwan’s capital Taipei with his wife, naming it Din Tai Fung and selling cooking oil and Xiao Long Bao, steamed Chinese soup dumplings often made with pork.

The business took off and the restaurant became synonymous with dumplings as well as dishes like steamed buns, egg fried rice and noodles.

It expanded into a franchise, with outlets in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, United Arab Emirates, South Korea and Singapore.

Further recognition followed — it was awarded its first Michelin star in 2009 and listed as one of the “world’s best travel franchises” on a CNN Travel list in 2014.

Its restaurant at the Taipei 101 skyscraper hosted Hollywood star Tom Cruise in 2013, who dined and joined chefs to make soup dumplings.

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