Chang says his Net­flix show hon­ors Bour­dain

Times-Herald (Vallejo) - - FOOD - By Michael Ci­doni Len­nox

LOS AN­GE­LES >> With its food-travel fu­sion and trips to parts un­known, “Break­fast, Lunch & Din­ner” host David Chang says he un­der­stands why crit­ics are mak­ing com­par­isons to work done by his late friend and col­league An­thony Bour­dain.

“I don’t know how you couldn’t,” said the restau­ra­teur, chef and food per­son­al­ity. “He was a pretty sig­nif­i­cant per­son in my life. But, whether we were suc­cess­ful or not, the last thing we would ever want to do is to not be re­spect­ful and pay homage. He was a pretty sig­nif­i­cant per­son in my life . ... The whole thing was hard to do, for ob­vi­ous rea­sons. But, you know, we tried very hard and we were very aware of try­ing to make it a dif­fer­ent show.”

Bour­dain, a chef and au­thor, was known for us­ing culi­nary tra­di­tions as a sto­ry­telling tool to ex­plore cul­tures around the globe in his CNN se­ries, “Parts Un­known.” He killed him­self in 2018.

Per­haps what’s most dif­fer­ent about Chang’s new Net­flix se­ries is the sweet and oc­ca­sion­ally salty chef him­self. His em­pire in­cludes restau­rants, cook­books and now two Net­flix shows. The first, “Ugly De­li­cious,” de­buted in 2018.

The first four episodes of “Break­fast, Lunch & Din­ner” pair Chang with celebri­ties as they ex­plore a city — Chrissy Teigen in Mar­rakesh,

Kate McKin­non in Ph­nom Penh, Seth Ro­gen in Van­cou­ver and Lena Waithe in Los An­ge­les.

It’s with the his­tory-mak­ing Waithe — the first black woman to win an Emmy for com­edy screen­writ­ing — where things get most in­ter­est­ing. They chat in a no-frills, sub­ur­ban Los An­ge­les diner as the con­ver­sa­tion turns to their re­spec­tive lack of rep­re­sen­ta­tion in main­stream Amer­ica. Waithe is gay. Chang’s par­ents im­mi­grated from Ko­rea in the ‘60s.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tion is an im­por­tant sub­ject for Chang. In Septem­ber, he told a Wash­ing­ton Post in­ter­viewer that the eth­nic food aisles in gro­cery stores are “the last bas­tion of racism’’ in re­tail Amer­ica.

In talk­ing to The As­so­ci­ated Press, Chang pre­sented an ex­am­ple. “Why should my hot sauce be in an eth­nic food aisle, but Tabasco is in a main aisle?”

Even so, in terms of avail­abil­ity and in­for­ma­tion, this is a golden age of food, Chang said. Con­sumers, man­u­fac­tur­ers and the culi­nary in­dus­try are bet­ter in­formed than ever. But the rip­ples from cli­mate change could lead to a “dif­fer­ent kind of food sys­tem,’’ he said.

“We may eat things dif­fer­ently,’’ he said. “My dad used to tell me, man, ‘When

I got an orange once a year, that was the great­est day of my life.’... And we may have to go back to that. And I don’t know what that looks like. But we can’t get what­ever we want any­more.”

There’s also been per­sonal change for Chang as he and his wife, Grace, be­came par­ents with the birth of their son, Hugo.

“It’s def­i­nitely, like, you know, ev­ery­one says, ‘changes your life,’ and I’m try­ing to find how to find a bet­ter bal­ance,” Chang said. “I’m a work in progress, man. And work­ing a lot is what I know how to do. And I do know that, soon, I’m go­ing to have to learn how not to work so hard.”

PHO­TOS BY NET­FLIX

David Chang, left, and Lena Waithe hav­ing break­fast at Win­some in Los An­ge­les in a scene from the Net­flix se­ries, “Break­fast, Lunch & Din­ner.”

David Chang, right, and ac­tor Seth Ro­gen eat­ing donuts at Lee’s Donuts in Van­cou­ver, Canada, in a scene from the Net­flix se­ries, “Break­fast, Lunch & Din­ner.”

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