Is Eddie Huang The Next Anthony Bourdain? Watch And Find Out

If the name Eddie Huang isn’t familiar, it may soon be, if the folks at VICE.tv have their way. The Washington, D.C., native is a chef, former lawyer and, according to his website, a former “hustler and street wear designer” born to Taiwanese immigrants – a background that led him to become the force behind Manhattan’s popular Baohaus restaurant.

Huang’s new VICE video series, “Fresh Off the Boat,” premiered online on October 15. According to VICE’s website, the show is “Eddie Huang’s genre-bending venture into subculture through the lens of food.” That’s one way to describe it.

Huang has been positioning himself as a chef-turned-media-personality in the vein of Anthony Bourdain or David Chang for a while now. As in, he’s street smart, opinionated, and doesn’t appear to give a rat’s ass what people think of his renegade ways. Ostensibly, it’s a great fit for VICE, which is known for its edgy exposés and other content.

Here we hit the first divergence among FOTB and the canon of travel series. Regardless of how you feel about them, Bourdain and Chang are still, respectively, articulate, intelligent commentators of what’s been called “food anthropology.” Huang is obviously a savvy businessman, and thus, one must assume, not lacking in brain cells. But he isn’t as likable. Unlike Chang, a mad genius, he’s not so outrageously batshit that he’s funny. He’s not particularly charming, witty, or aesthetically appealing, and he comes off more wannabe-Bourdain and imposter street thug than informative host and armchair travel guide.

In the premiere, Huang takes viewers on a backwoods tour of the Bay Area, starting with a visit to Oakland’s East Bay Rats Motorcycle Club.

We’re briefly introduced to Rats president Trevor Latham, and next thing we know Huang and Latham are armed with rifles and wandering Latham’s Livermore ranch in search of rabbits. Says, Latham, an avid hunter, “People that eat meat and aren’t willing to kill an animal are fucking pussies, and fuck them.”

Of note, the below video is fairly graphic.


rabbitsFor his part, Huang appears suitably humbled, although I have to wonder why a chef of his standing and ethnic and familial background (his father is also a restaurateur) doesn’t appear to have been exposed to animal slaughter before. Still, he gets bonus points for trying to disseminate what should have been the primary message.

Says Huang in the final scene, “Every time I eat meat now, I have to be conscious that…I am choosing to enable someone to kill an animal and create a market demand for slaughter. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Just be conscious of the choices you make.”

Well done. I just wish the rest of the episode carried that levity.

“Fresh Off the Boat airs Mondays; future episodes will include San Francisco, Miami, Los Angeles, and Taiwan.

[Photo credit: Eddie Huang, Youtube ; rabbits, Flickr user Robobobobo]

‘Food Forward’ PBS Series Debuts With ‘Urban Agriculture Across America’ Episode

cowsIn less than a century, the United States has gone from being a mostly agrarian society to an urbanized one. Most of us live in cities and, despite our growing cultural fascination with food, most Americans have no idea where the ingredients on their plate (or in that wrapper) are actually coming from.

That’s where “Food Forward” comes in. After a three-year effort, the premiere episode of this innovative new PBS series, as first reported by the Huffington Post, is airing nationally throughout April (see schedule after the jump). In “Urban Agriculture Across America,” the “Food Forward” crew travel from the Bay Area to Milwaukee, Detroit and New York City, talking to urban farming innovators such as Abeni Ramsey, a single mother in West Oakland.

Formerly relegated to feeding her family Top Ramen, Ramsey was inspired some years ago by a farm stand she spotted in her neighborhood, operated by West Oakland’s City Slicker Farms. As part of City Slickers’ initiative to nourish under-served communities, their staff and volunteers build garden boxes (designed for small-scale, intensive production) in residents’ yards.

Ramsey got her garden box and soon had a backyard full of produce. Next, she got chickens to provide her family with protein in the form of meat and eggs. Today, she’s the farm manager of the East Bay’s urban Dig Deep Farms. Dig Deep sells and delivers produce to local communities through its CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) program and works in collaboration with Oakland’s acclaimed Flora restaurant.

Says Flora chef Rico Rivera, “We order the produce, she picks it and it’s here the next morning.” Adds Ramsey, “It’s a modern idea that you get all of your food from the store. People have been farming in cities…since there were cities.”

[Photo credit: Flickr user Martin Gommel]rooftop gardenJohn Mooney, chef and rooftop hydroponic farmer at Bell Book & Candle in Manhattan’s West Village, is another interesting subject as is urban beekeeper Andrew Coté, who collects specific blends from hives around Manhattan and Brooklyn.

While the idea of keeping bees in the midst of a metropolis may seem an unnecessary objective, or a somewhat precious craft food enterprise, it’s anything but, as Coté points out. “Bees help pollinate the city’s community and rooftop gardens as well as window boxes.” Localized honey also contains pollen that helps allergy sufferers living in these neighborhoods.

Of Detroit, “Food Forward” co-creator/producer Stett Holbrook says, “It blew my mind. It’s a city that has been devastated by industrial collapse and the exodus of half of its population, but the resilience of the residents still there to remake the city – literally from the ground up – was truly inspiring. Urban agriculture is a big part of the renaissance.”

According to its website, the objective of “Food Forward” is to “create a series that looks beyond the world of celebrity chefs, cooking competitions,” and formulaic recipe shows. From my perspective, it also goes beyond the seemingly endless variations on scintillating (not) reality series on baked good empires, riffs on “Homo sapiens vs. Arteriosclerosis” and “Twenty Crappy Things You Can Cook With Canned Goods.”

Instead, “Food Forward” looks at what it calls the “food rebels” across America – farmers, chefs, ranchers, fishermen, food artisans, scientists and educators – who are dedicated to changingurban farm the way we eat and finding more sustainable alternatives to how food is produced and procured.

“Food Forward” succeeds (if the pilot is any indication) in a way that documentaries of this genre haven’t (despite being excellent on all counts: see, “The Future of Food,” “Food, Inc.,” etc.).

It’s mercifully not about food elitism, either. Rather than leaving you depressed, angry or guilty, the show inspires, entertains and sends a message of hope. Future episodes will focus on school lunch reform, sustainable fishing and meat production and soil science. Some segments are animated, either to better illustrate a point or to engage a wider age demographic.

“Food Forward” is “written, produced and directed by a veteran team of journalists, cinematographers and storytellers that includes: director Greg Roden (PBS, FOX and National Geographic channel’s “Lonely Planet” and the Los Angeles Times, Dallas Morning News, and San Francisco Chronicle); aforementioned creator-producer Holbrook (Food editor for Metro Silicon Valley and The Bohemian in Sonoma County, and contributor to the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Saveur and Chow.com); Brian Greene (Food Network, Discovery Channel, NBC), and director of photography David Lindstrom (PBS, National Geographic and Discovery channels).

On April 22, the pilot will air on WTTW in Chicago at 5:30 p.m. and WLIW in New York at 2:30 p.m. On April 28, it will air on Washington DC’s WETA at 5:30 p.m. For future episodes, check your local PBS listings, visit the “Food Forward” website or www.PBS.org/foodforward.


10 places for a boozy brunch in New York City

brunch While the city that never sleeps is full of wild nightclubs, upscale lounges, and rowdy bars, you’re going to need a place to nurse that hangover come Saturday and Sunday morning. Thankfully, New York is also home to a plethora of excellent boozy brunch spots, where they can prescribe you a “Hair of the Dog” remedy with complimentary and unlimited drinks with your meal.

Essex
120 Essex Street, Lower East Side

Essex offers a brunch special for $22.95 that allows patrons to order a meal along with three bloody marys, screwdrivers, or mimosas. Choose from standard fare like french toast with fruit, eggs with bacon, and blueberry pancakes as well as more interesting entrees like chorizo scrambled eggs and onions served with corn tortillas, manchego macaroni and cheese with chicken apple sausage, and potato pancakes covered with salmon caviar, poached eggs, and house-cured salmon gravlax.

Saturday from 11AM-4:30PM and Sunday from 11AM-8PM. Cash only. Meade’s
22 Peck Slip, Financial District

Meade’s is a cozy, laid-back bar and restaurant that offers a $12.95 all-you-can-drink mimosas, bloody mary’s, screwdrivers, and cape cods special with the purchase of a meal. Choose from classic morning favorites like steak and eggs ($11.95), make-your-own omelettes ($8.95), and crepes with banana and nutella served with strawberries ($8). If your hangover is really bad, opt for a greasy but satisfying Tator Pie ($8.95).

Saturday and Sunday, 12-4PM.

brunch Kyotofu
705 Ninth Ave., Hell’s Kitchen

Kyotofu is actually a Japanese dessert bar and bakery that incorporates cooking with tofu into their creations. For those without a sweet tooth, the eatery also offers a unique brunch that offers a complimentary bellini, mimosa, or blood mary with each meal. Choose from items like the chicken and tofu burger with housemade pickled cabbage and sweet potato chips ($15), poached eggs with truffle oil, mesclun greens, and toasted brioche ($10), and mac and cheese made with gruyere and monterary jack cheddar, spicy shichimi panko, and truffle pate ($12).

Saturday and Sunday, 11AM-5PM.

Sunburnt Cow
137 Ave C., East Village

The Sunburnt Cow is a fun Aussie-style dive bar where you are guaranteed to get trashed for cheap, even on Sunday afternoon. For $18, diners can enjoy an open bar and unlimited brunch. Choose from items like the Barrier Reef Benedict which includes poached eggs over crab cakes covered in hollandaise sauce, buttermilk banana pikelets, and the Queen Adelaide, a meal of poached eggs, salmon, and avocado on an english muffin that is served with a side of hollandaise. Because it gets extremely crowded, I would recommend getting there early or going with a party of 6 or more so that you can make a reservation.

Saturday and Sunday. Call for specific seating times, which run in 2-hour intervals. Cash only.

brunch Yotel
570 Tenth Ave., Hell’s Kitchen

Yotel is actually a funky and futuristic hotel located two blocks from Times Square that not only features a robot porter, but also an on-site restaurant with an all-inclusive weekend brunch. On their fourth floor terrace and in-door eatery, diners can enjoy unlimited tapas and free-flowing cocktails for $35 per person. In terms of drinks, you can enjoy the standard brunch libations as well as more unusual creations like Bacon Bloody Marys, Lychee Bellinis, and glasses of Passion Plantation Punch. For food, enjoy plates like the wild mushroom omelette with asparagus and cream cheese, halibut sliders with tomato and rémoulade sauce, and house ground meatballs with herbs and kaffir lime-tomato sauce.

Saturday and Sunday, 11AM-3PM.

Tre
173 Ludlow St., Lower East Side

Tre is a casual Italian restaurant and the perfect place for a budget-friendly boozy brunch in New York. For $19.95, patrons receive an entree as well as unlimited champagne, mimosas, and bellinis. Choose from menu items like potato pancakes with scallions, sour cream, and sausage, an Angus burger with goat cheese and spinach served with fries, and rigatoni carbonara with parmigiano, Pecorino, pancetta, and cream.

Saturday and Sunday, 12-4PM.

scottadito osteria toscana Scottadito Osteria Toscana
788 Union St., Park Slope, Brooklyn

Scottadito Osteria Toscana is a traditional Tuscan restaurant that also serves a delicious and booze-infused brunch on weekends. For $17.95, you get a meal as well as unlimited champagne and mimosas. Choose from entrees like a ham and ricotta cheese omelette, french toast topped with fruit, organic maple syrup, and powdered sugar, and homemade ricotta and spinach gnocchi with sage and butter. This venue is also suitable for families, as there is also a children’s brunch which includes pancakes, french toast, or eggs with roasted potatoes and soda or juice for $10.

Saturday and Sunday, 11AM-4PM.

Arte Cafe
106 W. 73 St., Upper West Side

Arte Cafe is a homestyle Italian restaurant that offers a $16 unlimited drink special with the purchase of a brunch meal. Choose from items like the broiche French toast with apple cinnamon sauce ($9.50), a prosciutto omelette with potatoes and onions ($10.95), ricotta and spinach stuffed ravioli in vodka sauce ($15.95), and chicken parmesan with spaghetti ($16.95).

Saturday and Sunday, 11AM-4PM.

brunch Braai
329 W. 51 St., Hell’s Kitchen

Braai is a South African wine and food venue with authentic decor that will transport you to another country. On the weekends, you can take in jungle-inspired furnishings while also taking in unlimited champagne, mimosas, bloody marys, screwdrivers, and bellinis for $15 plus the price of an entree. Meal selections include fare like a spinach and goat cheese omelette ($8), grilled chicken with tomato, lettuce, and mayo served on warm focaccia ($9), and farfelle salmon in a pink sauce ($11.50).

Saturday and Sunday, 11AM-3:30PM

Yerba Buena
23 Ave A., East Village

Looking for some Latin American fare? Yerba Buena serves $12 unlimited sangrias, mimosas, margaritas, and house cocktails for an hour plus the price of a meal. Entree selections include fare like short ribs with fried eggs, congri, and salsa ($14), fish tacos with rice, beans, cabbage, and spicy coleslaw ($12), and Mexican hot chocolate with cinnamon churros ($9). Yerba Buena also has a West Village location at 1 Perry Street.

Saturday and Sunday, 11:30AM-3PM.

[photos via missmeng, jasonlam, Yotel, Braai]

Enjoy a free Broadway show in a retro New York diner

ellen's stardust diner When visiting New York, a must on most peoples’ lists is to buy tickets to a Broadway show. If you want entertainment that’s a little more affordable, stop into Ellen’s Stardust Diner.

The eatery is a themed diner that takes you back to the 1950’s, with waitresses in poodle skirts and waiters in retro bowling shirts serving classic fare like meatloaf, burger platters, macaroni and cheese, Whoopie pie sundaes, and thick shakes. To add to the old-time ambiance, nostalgic memorabilia adorns the room, a model-train set circles teh tables, and 50’s videos play on the television sets and a “drive-in theatre” screen.

While the food and decor help to make the place lively and fun, the real draw is the Broadway-style singing. The talented servers break out in random song from shows like Wicked, Phantom of the Opera, and other major hits. Many of the staff are aspiring performers (a few have even been American Idol participants) trying to make it big, so the singing is more than just a hobby.

Yes, this restaurant is touristy, but it’s a lot of fun. Also, the staff are actually extremely talented and could easily be on Broadway. Bonus: If you like dessert, they have the most enormous sundae I’ve ever seen, “Ellen’s ‘Everything But the Kitchen Sink'”, with homemade vanilla, chocolate, coffee, and strawberry ice cream, hot fudge, caramel, walnuts, cherries, strawberries, whipped cream, sprinkles, brownies, and Oreo cookies. Just make sure to wear loose pants.

From the Bay to Brooklyn: San Francisco, California, Japanese restaurant pops up this November in New York

japenese pop up restaurant in new york Chefs James LaLonde and Ryoji Kajikawa of the Mojo Cafe in San Francisco, California, love creating Japanese-by-way-of-California delicacies for their pop-up restaurant, SloMo SF. On November 18, 19, and 21, 2011, New Yorkers will also get a chance to experience their cuisine through a series of pop-up dinners at Sweet Deliverance in Brooklyn.

These pop-up dinners cost $90 per person and include a seasonally-inspired 7-course Japanese meal with drinks. Some menu and drink items you can expect are:

  • sake-steamed clams
  • Japanese fried chicken
  • ramen with housemade stock and noodles and seasonal garnishes
  • beer
  • sake
  • persimmon cocktails

For more information and to order tickets, visit Brown Paper Tickets.

Sweet Deliverance is a two-level commercial kitchen space located at 1287 Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, New York.