Welcome back to Asian Inspiration, your biweekly column that highlights prominent Asian/Asian-Americans that may or may not inspire you! I know that it’s been a while since my last post, and I apologize for that.
But now, without further ado, Eddie Huang.
Eddie Huang, 32, is a Taiwanese-American celebrity chef and writer. Raised in Orlando, FL, Huang grew up surrounded by food, not only through his mother’s home cooking, but also through his father’s successful management of seafood and steak restaurants. He would later attend higher education at UPitt and Rollins College for undergraduate studies, and Yeshiva University for graduate school, where he would get his law degree.
Shortly after law school, however, Huang decided that law wasn’t the right career choice for him, and worked as a stand-up comic while learning business management skills from his father. He would later take those skills and open a successful restaurant called Baohaus, a Taiwanese bun house that is still in operation, right on 14th street, between 2nd and 3rd ave.
In 2013, Huang published a memoir of his life, titled Fresh Off the Boat, which debuted on the New York Times Bestseller list at number 33. For those of you who don’t know, “fresh off the boat” is usually a pejorative phrase, used to refer to Asian immigrants who still hold onto the customs of their native country. In a Time interview, Huang commented on the title, saying:
The book is very much about how, growing up in America, you are almost shamed into assimilation, and I chose the name Fresh Off the Boat because as I got older, I really really started to own who I was, where I was from… The older I got, the more I wanted to be “fresh off the boat.”
Huang then went on to star in several cooking segments, two on the Cooking Channel, one on Vice, and one on MTV. In one entertaining webisode from Vice, Huang takes a few of his friends to his favorite Chinese restaurants in New York and shows them how to eat Chinese food “the right way.” (Note: my parents have always been a firm believer that as long as you can get the food into your mouth, you’re eating it “right,” but it’s an interesting watch nonetheless!)
In 2014, Huang’s memoir became the basis of a new ABC show of the same name. With the pilot set to air on February 10th, Fresh Off the Boat is a hilarious show following the fictional Huang family, and their quest for the American Dream, with Eddie as the producer.
Seeing your life turned into a show is not an easy process, but as Huang discovered, that’s not what FotB is supposed to be about. Huang said:
After 18 months of back and forth, I had crossed a threshold and become the audience. I wasn’t the auteur, the writer, the actor or the source material. I was the viewer and I finally understood it. (Source)
The show isn’t about Huang’s life. And it’s not even about a so-called “FOB’s” life, either. It’s a show designed to reach out to a varied audience with universal themes–one of which is to be different. As Huang says,
The feeling of being different is universal because difference makes us universally human in our individual relationships with society. We’re all fucking weirdos.
Fresh off the Boat is receiving amazing reviews from TV critics, and looks to be extremely entertaining and promising. It premiers on February 10th on ABC, and is scheduled to have a 13-episode first season. Watch the trailer here. It’s really funny.
If you’d like to keep up with Eddie Huang, you can follow him on Twitter. Want to talk about Fresh Off the Boat? Reblog OR use our comment system on the page! Otherwise, if you have a suggestion for a future Asian Inspiration, feel free to leave a message in Generasian’s Ask, Twitter, or Facebook!