David Chang – Starting a Conversation About Our Food on “Ugly Delicious” | The Daily Show


Please welcome David Chang! -♪ ♪
-(cheering and applause) Wow! -Welcome, sir.
-Excited to be here. Welcome to the show.
Glad that you’re here. Disappointed you didn’t bring
any fried chicken with you. Uh, I’m addicted
to a lot of your food and so many other people are. Uh, this Netflix series
has started off with a bang. People are loving it.
Why the title, Ugly Delicious? Well, as you saw in that clip,
I grew up eating really well. My mom cooked
a lot of Korean things. And growing up in Northern
Virginia, it wasn’t that cool. In fact, I was, like,
the butt of many jokes. So when I started cooking
professionally, those were the foods
that I never wanted to touch, -’cause I was ashamed of it
or I just didn’t want to, -Wow. like, embrace it.
And that sort of en-encapsulates a lot of the foods
that I think are truly delicious but may not…
may not be cool or is, uh… looks good on a photograph
sometimes, you know? Like, a curry
is a perfect example. A bowl of curry is so good
but isn’t something that’s gonna be on the cover
of a magazine. And for you, growing up, your
food was a part of your culture but it was also something that
people used to tease you about. Do you think that that’s-that’s
a big part of food, is the cultural identity
that comes with it? Absolutely. Because we’re
at a-a… not a crossroads but food is pop…
more popular than ever before, and it sort of intersects so
many different parts of culture -throughout the world.
-Right. So, in so many ways, you know, creating the show with Morgan
Neville and Eddie Schmidt, we decided that food could be
sort of a Trojan horse to talk about many
of the great things in culture and many of the bad things
in culture. Right. Like, for instance,
with, um, Chinese food, uh, th-there’s an episode where
you delve into Chinese food. And it feels like it’s less
about the Chinese food itself and about how, uh,
Chinese people in America have had to assimilate
and what-what that means and how the food has had
to assimilate in many ways to fit in with American culture.
What… Like, what did you learn
in that experience, when looking at Chinese food
on its own in America? I mean, it goes all the way back to when they came
to work on the railroads and how they were marginalized
way back then in the 1890s or so. And without getting too much
into the history, I feel like, as delicious
as Chinese food is– and it’s, like, the most prevalent
kind of food -throughout the world,
it seems– -Right. uh, it’s never been seen
as, like, as cool -as other European cuisines.
-Right. And quite frankly, I think
that there has been a lot of sort of hidden racism
in how people perceive, not just Chinese food,
like… basically anything that’s, like, different than
the mainstream America, right? And you see that with MSG or how
people see, like, cheap meats -in Asian restaurants, Chinese
restaurants. -Right, yeah. And a lot of that’s not true,
right? They’re just, um, you know,
not even misperceptions. They’re just wrong, right? It’s interesting that you bring
up racism with regards to food, because those are stereotypes
that you see, you know, rearing their ugly heads
all over the world. You know, people go, “Oh,
watermelon– black people, and chicken– black people.” And they’ll be like, “Oh,
you eat this type of food if you’re Asian,
and you-you eat this…” There are certain ideas
that come from food. There are certain stories
that are told by the food. There’s an episode where
you talk about fried chicken. And what I loved in the story– you know,
you’re out in the South. You’re meeting with people
who cook fried chicken, white people
who make fried chicken. Did you find that it was
interesting to speak to people about where
the chicken came from, how it came to be popularized, and how they saw the story
as it related to the food? Absolutely, and I think,
first and foremost, about fried chicken–
it’s a story that, you know, a lot of people
don’t know about. Everyone, I think, that eats
chicken will find it to be… -a fried chicken
to be delicious. -Right. Again, the world over, almost. But the story of how it was born
out of oppression and slavery… -Right. -…for the most part,
the fried chicken that we all most are commonly
associated with– that’s a really tough story
to tell, right? And if we can’t talk about fried
chicken, how are we supposed to talk about other things that
are problematic in this world? -Right, right, right.
-So, um, and going back to the… sort of the popularity
of fried chicken shops– there’s a scene where I’m
talking to my friends, really, and, um, questioning them, the same questions
I’d answer myself. And the reality is it’s, like…
it’s a… it’s a responsibility that I think today in 2018
that we should know more about, and we should talk about,
and it’s, uh… -it’s not easy to talk about.
-Right. I mean, think
you have to watch the episode, because, I think, we’re not
trying to answer anything. -We’re just trying to start the
conversation about that. -Right. ‘Cause it’s just
too dense of a topic. Do you feel like that’s
something people could do, like, at restaurants? Like, the waiter should have
to tell you about the history of the food
when they give it to you? So you should be like,
“What are you gonna have?” “I’ll have the fried chicken.” “Let me tell you about slavery
and oppression. “Like, this chicken over here
comes from a long history of people being oppressed.” And you’re, like,
“Mm, I’m gonna go with the rice. -Can I go with the rice?”
-(laughter) No, it’s not about that.
I mean, certainly it could be,
but we live in a world where there’s so much
information at your fingertips. Like, why not go down that
rabbit hole just a little bit? And, you know, there’s a scene
in that fried chicken episode where–
it’s not about fried chicken– where I say to David Simon,
great director of The Wire, where I’m like, “Hey, I would
have a problem if someone -that’s not Korean
starts making kimchi.” -Right. And he sort of smacks me down,
being like, “You’re an idiot.” Right? And like, “America is
about cultural appropriation when it’s done, like, very well,
if that makes any sense.” -Right. -And I thought
about that, and I was like, “Man, he’s absolutely right,
in the sense that “the only way I’m gonna get
this person that’s making kimchi to appreciate kimchi is to let
them go down the rabbit hole.” -Right, right, right.
-And maybe they’re gonna be the biggest advocate of it,
but if I’m there judging them, -saying like, “You can’t
do this. Why…?” -Right. …then I’m not making
any progress there. So I feel the same way
about fried chicken. And I think
that I could have been that… that fried chicken shop down
in Nashville -because I love hot
fried chicken so much. -Right. Of course, the first thing
you want to do is pay homage. But we… It’s a problem
sometimes, right? It’s a…
What happens if you start killing the very
thing that inspired you? Right. That’s really
interesting. And that’s, I think,
what the show does. It’s asks questions,
it starts conversations, and most importantly,
it makes me hungry as shit. Thank you so much
for being on the show. -Thanks, Trevor.
-Amazing to have you here. Ugly Delicious is available
on Netflix now. David Chang, everybody.

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