My Executive

Rising star's memoir may pave the way for US sitcom

HIS STORY: Eddie Huang's memoir will serve as inspiration for a potential ABC-TV sitcom.


    Aug 22, 2013

    Rising star's memoir may pave the way for US sitcom

    RESTAURATEUR and TV host Eddie Huang is hailed as a rock-star chef who, as Rolling Stone put it, makes Anthony Bourdain look like Julia Child.

    Today, 31-year-old Huang - who first made his name with his lauded Manhattan eatery, Taiwanese bun restaurant BaoHaus - is famous for hosting shows like Cheap Bites and for his critically acclaimed memoir, Fresh Off The Boat.

    He isn't yet a household name. But he's getting there.

    His recently published memoir will serve as inspiration for a potential ABC-TV sitcom that, if given the green light, will be the first Chinese American-focused show on a major United States network.

    Loosely based on Huang's childhood, the show will likely feature the bawdy humour that has become his signature.

    Before he made a name for himself as a New York food personality, Huang was a kid struggling to define what being Chinese in the US should be. The show will aim to depict that experience without relying on heavy-handed tropes, he said.

    "We all understand that trying to write an overly general and oppressive 'Asian' show isn't the way to go," said Huang, a former lawyer whose parents hailed from Taiwan.

    "What we want is a human story that everyone relates to, but represents the idea of difference simply with the faces on the screen and the voice of the writer.

    "Martin, Fresh Prince, Seinfeld - to me, these weren't 'black' shows or 'Jewish' shows, they were great shows with original voices and individual characters we hadn't heard and that ended up changing the American consciousness."

    Huang's book - described by The New York Times as a "sophisticated memoir about race and assimilation in America" - was inspired by the feeling that he had been hemmed in by the Asian-Americans who had passed through the public eye before him, he said.

    Authors Amy Tan, Amy Chua and Gish Jen have all written about the Asian-American experience in a way that "provide nothing to a 12-year-old Chinese kid being berated by 'ching chong' jokes in the lunchroom".

    "I would have died to see this show as a 12-year-old," he said of the upcoming pilot.

    The overwhelming support he has received for his memoir has only confirmed that there is an audience for stories about the immigrant experience, he said.

    Nahnatchka Khan, creator of the show Don't Trust The B- In Apartment 23, will serve as executive producer on the pilot. Huang will produce.

    He added: "I want people to know that Chinese people are just like any other people. We're in mountains, we're in lakes, we're on rollerblades, we're on scooters and we're on television."