Practice English Speaking&Listening with: The Truth About Celebrity Chef Eddie Huang

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Chef Eddie Huang isn't afraid to shake things up.

He also doesn't hesitate to speak out about things that are important to him, from reflecting

on the immigrant experience, to talking about his love for hip-hop and basketball.

Here's everything you should know about him.

In a 2017 essay for The Cut, Huang revealed that he was a survivor of childhood abuse.

When he was 14, he was violated by a chaperone on a church ski trip.

He told a handful of close friends years after the incident happened, but it took him nearly

two decades before he went public with his story.

He decided to do so after the stories about Harvey Weinstein made him think about his

own assault experience.

He was also inspired by actor Anthony Rapp coming forward about his own alleged assault

by Kevin Spacey when he too was just 14.

As Huang wrote in his essay,

"We can't always control what people do to us, but we do have the power to define it."

That wasn't the only troubling experience that Huang lived through at a young age, as

he also experienced domestic violence.

In a 2015 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, he revealed,

"They tried to take my brother away and my parents away from my family because of domestic

violence, and it's something I really struggled with as a kidThis is a big idea, and I

feel like if we are going to talk about Asian families, it's something we should discuss

and think about how we can address."

Even if you aren't familiar with Eddie Huang through his culinary career, there's a chance

you know a thing or two about his life.

That's because the hit ABC sitcom Fresh Off The Boat, which ended its six-season run in

2020, is based on Huang's memoir of the same name.

The memoir is about his experience as a Taiwanese-American kid with immigrant parents.

The book, much like the show, chronicles his family's move from Washington, D.C. to Florida,

showcases young Eddie's love of hip hop, and explores his family's dynamics as they struggle

to adapt to suburban life.

"When you allow everyone to say, 'I'm fresh off the boat,' that's like, to let everyone

say the n-word, like that's not appropriate."

Fresh Off the Boat was the first TV series starring an Asian American cast to air in

more than two decades.

Though the show was groundbreaking, not everyone was pleased with its representation of Asian-American

life.

In fact, Huang himself made more than a few statements about his displeasure with how

the show has interpreted his family's story.

If you've written a memoir that becomes a best-seller and is then optioned for a TV

show, that must be a dream come true.

But alas, Eddie Huang has a few thoughts about the realities of having a deeply personal

work of nonfiction adapted into a network-friendly sitcom.

In a 2015 essay for New York Magazine, he had this to say about the show's executive

producer, Melvin Mar:

"I'd known Asian-Americans like Melvin my entire life.

[They] forget that successful people of color are in many ways 'chosen' and 'allowed' to

exist while the others get left behind."

Regarding the show's head writer and executive producer Nahnatchka Khan, who is Persian-American,

Huang had this to ask:

"Why isn't there a Taiwanese or Chinese person who can write this?

I'm sure there's some angry Korean dude in Hollywood who grew up eating Spam, watching

his dad punch his mom in the face, who knows how to use Final Draft!"

Huang did see some truth in the show, but ultimately he had to say,

"This show isn't about me, nor is it about Asian America.

The network won't take that gamble right now."

Huang made these statements before the show premiered, but he eventually seemed to have

softened, if only somewhat.

In a 2016 conversation with Constance Wu, one of the show's stars, he said,

"It's a gateway [to Asian-American culture].

I don't watch it, but I'm proud of what it does."

Fresh Off the Boat isn't Huang's only experience in the entertainment world.

He's hosted a few shows, including the Cooking Channel's Unique Eats, MTV's cooking competition

program Snack-Off, and the Viceland international travel series Huang's World.

He also appeared on an episode of Anthony Bourdain's show The Layover.

But he's not just sticking to the world of TV.

In August of 2019, it was announced that Huang would direct Boogie, a feature film that he

also wrote.

It's a coming-of-age story about a Chinese-American basketball player in New York City.

Much like Huang himself, the main character in the film is the child of immigrants, and

also like Huang, he has a passion for basketball and dreams of someday playing in the NBA.

The story focuses on his attempts to balance his desire to play pro ball with his parents'

expectations.

Few ingredients are more controversial in the American kitchen than MSG, or monosodium

glutamate.

It's a food additive that enhances the savory, umami flavor in foods.

But for years, Americans have claimed it can cause side effects like headaches, chest pains,

and more.

There's even a term for these side effects: Chinese Restaurant Syndrome.

But Eddie Huang has pointed out that this is a racist term that reflects white Americans'

prejudice towards foods from other cultures more than it does any scientifically backed

evidence.

Huang feels so passionately about dispelling the myths and rumors around this ingredient

that he recently teamed up with Ajinomoto, a company that makes MSG, to educate diners

about the product and its uses.

Not only does the FDA include MSG as an ingredient that is "generally recognized as safe," but

numerous scientific studies have also shown that there's no link between it and its supposed

side effects.

Huang starred in two Instagram videos that address bias towards MSG, and he's firm in

his belief that this is one ingredient that gets a bad rap for no good reason.

"They might as well just call it Oriental Restaurant Syndrome."

Huang is no stranger to conflict, whether it involves Fresh Off the Boat, racist myths

about MSG, or, as it turns out, trying to reason with right-wing extremists.

In 2016, he traveled to Italy to film an episode of his Viceland show Huang's World.

He was dining with members of the far-right group Forza Nuova and attempting to talk to

them about cross-cultural food influences.

But when he mentioned that some of their most beloved Sicilian foods like sesame seeds and

pistachio gelato actually have North African origins, they started to get angry.

A passerby chimed in and took Huang's side, but that only encouraged one of the Forza

Nuova members to try to initiate a fight.

Eventually the cops were called, and Huang and his crew were sent to jail.

"You cannot deny where this is from, and you cannot deny the roots of your identity, and

they really wanted to deny it."

Luckily, Huang's experience in Italian prison wasn't exactly harrowing.

Some curious cops asked him to explain how to make a real hamburger, and he apparently

enchanted them with tales of Carl's Jr.'s $6 drive-thru burger.

Whatever it takes to pass the time behind bars!

The creators of Fresh Off the Boat aren't the only big players in the world of entertainment

that Huang has spoken out against.

He had some strong words for Steve Harvey after he heard the comedian tell a particular

joke about Asian men.

On an episode of his talk show, Harvey referred to a fictional dating book called How to Date

a White Woman: A Practical Guide for Asian Men.

Then he offered up this so-called joke:

"That's one page.

'Excuse me, do you like Asian men?'

'No.'

'Thank you.'"

Huang was understandably upset, and he used his platform to speak up.

He said that the joke hit him particularly hard because, as he explained in an essay

for The New York Times,

"The one joke that still hurts, the sore spot that even my closest friends will press, the

one stereotype that I still mistakenly believe at the most inopportune bedroom moments...is

that women don't want Asian men."

Huang did note that Harvey does speak openly about issues within the black community, but

he didn't believe that excused him of any offensiveness.

As Huang explained,

"For his own personal profit, he's willing to perpetuate the emasculation of Asian men

regardless of how hypocritical it is."

Being a celebrity chef and maintaining a relationship is hard.

Eddie Huang is just one of many in the industry who have been unlucky in love.

He wrote about his relationship with his now-ex-girlfriend, Dena, in his second memoir, Double Cup Love:

On the Trail of Family, Food, and Broken Hearts in China.

He detailed how he decided to travel to China to cook for the people there and to see how

his Chinese-Taiwanese-American food would be accepted.

Initially, he planned to have Dena meet him halfway through the trip, and he also planned

on doing something big when she arrived: proposing.

Unfortunately, it seems like cultural differences got in the way of their relationship.

When Huang called Dena's father to get his permission to propose, he espoused some outdated,

racially insensitive beliefs, and it cast a shadow over the couple's entire relationship.

Huang did end up proposing, but their relationship dissolved 18 months later.

That wasn't the only problem.

As Huang wrote in an essay for New York Magazine,

"She couldn't take affirmative steps toward the things she wanted to do in life...I just

kept pushing her toward her goals and eventually pushed her away."

Huang is often regarded as a "bad boy" of the food world, someone who isn't afraid to

speak his mind.

So it makes sense then that he developed a friendship with the late Anthony Bourdain,

himself a talented essayist, entertainer, and "bad boy" voice in the culinary world.

In 2012, Bourdain spoke to the Observer about Huang, and most of what he said was filled

with praise.

He initially became a fan of Huang through his blog, and it was his writing that drew

him in long before he ever ate at Huang's BaoHaus restaurant.

It seems like Bourdain's fascination mostly had to do with being a fan of Huang's cultural

criticism.

When the Observer asked him about Huang's cooking, Bourdain said,

"I don't know Eddie the cook, and I don't really know Eddie the restaurateur.

It seems to me a smart operation with tasty little pork buns."

When Bourdain passed away, Huang mourned along with the rest of the food world, detailing

his respect for the man in an article for Rolling Stone.

He talked about how influential Bourdain's No Reservations: Asia two-hour special was

for him and his family, and praised the way he used food to bring people together.

As Huang put it,

"He was, is, and always will be the Michael Jordan, Hunter S. Thompson and Mick Jagger

of this s---, and we all wanted to beat him."

When you think about going to eat at a trendy New York restaurant, what do you imagine drinking?

For most of us, it would probably be a nice glass of wine, a local micro-brew, or a fancy

mixologist-style cocktail.

But Eddie Huang, who's never one to cave in to expectations, had other ideas at his restaurant

Xiao Ye [JZHOU YEH].

He initially decided to host an all-you-can-drink Four Loko event at Xiao Ye.

For those who don't remember, Four Loko in its original form was a high-gravity malt

beverage that was also loaded with caffeine.

It was eventually banned because it was thought to be too dangerous to drink, in fact, several

people died after ingesting it.

It's since been reformulated and is available under the same name, now without caffeine.

After a lot of pushback, Huang canceled the all-you-can-drink event, deciding instead

to serve Four Loko cans for $3 a pop.

Alas, the Liquor Authority had other ideas.

Huang claims that they raided Xiao Ye four times, destroyed their inventory of Four Loko,

sent undercover agents with fake IDs to order the drink, and fined the establishment.

Ultimately, fearing that they would lose their liquor license all together, Huang and his

partner closed Xiao Ye.

"It was a bad move."

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