Lina Fat, a key figure in the Sacramento's Fat Family Restaurant Group, died Monday according to niece Corinne Chee. She was 81.
Frank Fat's, an icon of the Sacramento restaurant scene, opened near the state Capitol in 1939. Lina Fat, who married Frank Fat's son Ken, joined the business as Head Corporate Chef in 1974, helping the family to open its China Camp restaurant in Old Sacramento.
In September, Fat told CapRadio's Beth Ruyak how before China Camp opened the family was close to selling the land back to the city after not being able to decide on a menu that would separate it from the family's downtown location.
Fat suggested a concept around Hong Kong cuisine based on a dream of her own father, which proved popular with Sacramento diners.
"Because my father … he wanted to open a restaurant. And he named it China Camp. He wanted to commemorate to Chinese immigrants to United States," she said. "Since I was an immigrant from Hong Kong, I said, why not do something that we do at home? So that's how I started writing down [the] menu and went through the recipe and went through the whole family approval."
Even after creating the menu, Fat said she didn't expect to join the restaurant full time after a decade working as a pharmacist. But when China Camp opened, her brother in law had her leading the kitchen.
"I thought I just developed the recipe and another chef and could take over," Fat said in September. "The week before we opened, my brother-in-law Wing [Fat] assigned duties to the family, who is going to do what. When he came to me and he said. 'Oh, you're in charge of the kitchen.' And I'm the type who like challenges, so I said okay."
Fat eventually became master chef and later the Fat Family Restaurant Group's vice president of culinary research and development.
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