Ugly Delicious is the newest dish to hit the NETFLIX kitchen.
From James Beard Award-Winning Chef David Chang and Academy Award-Winner Morgan Neville comes a Netflix original designed to amplify your taste buds. Ugly Delicious, true to its name, helps to showcase the historically unattractive and societal rejects of the food world, and gives them a platform to speak.
Chang, a founder of the Momofuku Restaurant Group, has outlets all over the world. With Ugly Delicious being yet another venture into the world of cooking.
As far as the show entails: over eight episodes, David travels the world with writers and chefs, activists and artists, who use food as a vehicle to break down cultural barriers, tackle misconceptions and uncover shared experiences. Ugly Delicious ventures out of polished kitchens into the wider world to explore Viet-Cajun cuisine in Houston, Neapolitan Pizza in Tokyo, home cooking in Copenhagen, and much more. Special guests include Jimmy Kimmel, Alan Yang, Wolfgang Puck, Ali Wong, Nick Kroll, Eric Wareheim and Gillian Jacobs.
If food television is your thing, look no further. Interview below.
The Knockturnal: Ugly Delicious is a very unconventional cooking show. Where does the idea come from?
David Chang: I think the idea was originated just opening up the restaurants and traveling and realizing so much of the very best food conversations. And not only the conversation but the very best food wasn’t getting the recognition it deserved and wanted to tell stories that weren’t being told about food and culture.
The Knockturnal: How did you come up with the format of the show?
David Chang: You know, working with Morgan Neville and the team of Tremolo, it was pretty easy from the get-go because we knew that we wanted to start with one food subject and then go down that rabbit hole and then really explore as much as we could in the allotted time all of the stories that make up that food – and that was pretty much it. Like for instance, we do pizza. We go down, talk; we go to Tokyo. We go to Italy. We go to New Haven, a few other places; but we don’t cover everything. And it wasn’t about hitting everything, it was trying to talk about the stories that sort of are underlying to pizza.
The Knockturnal: What did you learn from all these stories?
David Chang: I think what I learned most is often-times cultural assumptions about food are often-times wrong.
The Knockturnal: Where does your love for food come from?
David Chang: My mother and my grandmother were amazing cooks. So I grew up in a household thankfully where food was a priority and just good eating – I think everyone wants to eat well. No one wants to eat poorly. So, being able to experience that and wanting to share that. It’s one reason why I got the restaurant business.
The Knockturnal: Where does Ugly Delicious come from? Because it could be misinterpreted.
David Chang: It was a phrase that I used to term food that doesn’t look great but tastes delicious. And a lot of these things – these ugly delicious kinds of food – don’t get the press or the recognition they deserve. So it doesn’t mean they’re not amazing. It doesn’t mean they’re less, like, delicious than something that looks super pretty.
The Knockturnal: How did your celebrity friends get involved in the different stories?
David Chang: Right, and one of the things again from the get-go was I didn’t want to own the entire narrative because I don’t know everything about food and that’s what makes food such an amazing topic is everybody eats food, everybody has to eat food, and everyone has their own viewpoints on it. And you could be a director, writer like David Simon, or you could be, you know, an actor like Eric Wareheim or journalists Serena Dai, and all provide their expert opinions on something. Because everyone is essentially a food expert.
The Knockturnal: Talk about your involvement with “Food Gods” like Wolfgang Puck?
David Chang: Yeah. Wolfgang Puck. Someone, I never thought I’d get to hang out with and get his life stories and I would love to just do more about Wolfgang Puck because he changed the food scene in America. So it’s a lot. It’s a lot of chef talk at times and hopefully, we don’t make it too inside baseball.
The Knockturnal: Biggest misconception of being a chef? Why do you think people find it intimidating to cook?
David Chang: I think the culinary world is changing for a positive right now because it’s a very tough business. But if anything, at its core, what I love about it is the fact that it’s a little bit of everything, alright? You need to tie in so many different parts of culture. It’s a little bit of craft. It’s a little bit of being an artist. It’s a little bit of being a businessman. It’s a little bit about being a farmer. It’s a little bit of being a showman. And I think that’s what makes it sometimes the best job in the world.
The Knockturnal: What did you learn about yourself from doing the show?
David Chang: What I learned most about the show is that I really sort of know nothing, and I need to stop cursing so much.