Eddie Huang on Food, Culture, and Identity

Published on15 MAY 2017

Lawyer-turned-restaurateur Eddie Huang authored the bestselling memoir, Fresh Off the Boat, that inspired the popular ABC sitcom of the same name and generated a new dialogue around social and cultural identity. Huang, who is also host of his own television show, VICELAND's Huang's World, which explores cultural identity through food, discusses his experiences growing up in Orlando, Florida as the son of Taiwanese immigrants and his ambitions to raise the level of social discourse in America.

On developing his cultural identity: “Through the actual writing of [Fresh Off the Boat], I learned that being reactive as a minority in this country is not always the most productive. It’s probably the first phase, it’s the first step of creating your identity and realizing who you are. But then you [have to] step back and think, and say, ‘Alright, what parts of myself are a reaction to structural racism, and what parts are actually who I am?’”

On embracing different cultures: "You have to evolve the conversation. Why not believe in humanity? Why not believe that we're more similar than we are different?”

On letting go of racial stereotypes: “The model minority is a character that is the dominant culture America created, right? Everyone is very aware what the stereotypical, stigmatic identity of their race is in America. If you’re Mexican, if you’re Puerto Rican, [if] you’re black, [if] you’re Chinese, you know what is expected of you. The mold that we [as Asians] were expected to play was that of the model minority. Very much like a lap dog, very obedient, disciplined, focused on numbers, not so high on the verbal SAT. And this doesn’t really make sense… how is it that we’re a race of people that just counts things?”

Explore More Insights