David Chang, award-winning chef, TV host, burgeoning media mogul and creator of the world-renowned culinary brand Momofuku, wants to do away with the ethnic food aisle that exists in many U.S. grocery stores.
“I just saw this as sort of a misunderstood and unintentional bias, but it’s still a vestige of some antiquated thinking. I think it should go,” the chef said in an interview with HuffPost on Wednesday at an American Express Gold Card and Boxed event. At some grocery stores, the section is also sometimes referred to as an “international” aisle.
“It’s a topic that bothers a lot of people,” he said, adding that all products not traditionally associated with white America shouldn’t be “categorized all in one.” Instead, those items should just “be with everything else.”
He added that “the weird thing is, you go to the potato chip aisle in a big grocery store, it’s all there, international flavors and all. If potato chip companies can do it and the potato chip aisle can do it ― you know what I mean?”
Chang discussed the aisle ― which he describes as “the last bastion of racism that you can see in full daylight” in food retail ― during a self-described “rant” on an episode of his podcast, “The Dave Chang Show,” released last week.
In addition to his podcast, Chang is also developing a show for Hulu with Chrissy Teigen called “Family Style,” which “will revolve around the ways in which people express their love for friends and family by cooking and eating together,” according to the streaming service.
Chang stayed coy about the details, only saying, “The world wants more Chrissy!”
Despite a seemingly never-ending list of projects ― including a new season of Netflix’s “Ugly Delicious” as well as new bars and restaurants in New York City and Las Vegas ― Chang said he’s “trying to stay at home as much as possible and try to be a dad.”
The chef and his wife, Grace Seo Chang, recently welcomed their first child, a son named Hugo. Having a child has changed things for Chang, who said that his son has made him much more efficient with his time.
“I don’t have the luxury to overthink things,” he said with a smile.
But he has been giving a lot of thought to mental health ― and helping people ask for help ― since the death of his good friend Anthony Bourdain in 2018.
After Bourdain’s death, Chang opened up on his podcast about his own struggle with depression. “After Tony passed, I thought it was the most sensible thing to do,” he said.
“I think a lot of people in the business and my friends know that I’m like pretty crazy, and they know that I’ve gotten help for it, so I just saw this as a sort of tipping point with everything that was happening,” Chang said. “More and more people asking me like, ‘What the hell? What do I do?’”
The restaurateur and chef has said that early on with Momofuku, he didn’t plan beyond 10 years because he “was not supposed to be alive” then.
Chang told HuffPost that since Bourdain’s death, “it’s caused a lot more people within my restaurant group and outside of the restaurant industry, my peers in general, to say that they need help or seek help or to ask for advice ― the step before getting help.”
“I think those conversations are happening at a level that have never happened before,” he said. “And that’s a very good thing.”