EXCLUSIVE: How Food Personality Eddie Huang Ended Up Cooking Kosher for Christmas
by Zach Pontz
Here’s a Christmas cliche: Jews and Chinese food. Not that there’s anything cliche about Chinese food but, let’s be honest, a special day calls for a special take on the old standby ethnic foods. Enter chef Eddie Huang of Baohaus fame. The media star hosted a dinner at the kosher hotspot Jezebel on Christmas, where he offered up specialties such as spicy short rib noodle soup and Szechuan roasted cornish hen.
So how did the celebrated food personality end up at Jezebel for Christmas instead of at home sipping egg nog, watching “A Christmas Story?”
“My good friend, Max, who was on an episode of Munchies with me, introduced me to Henry [Stimler, Jezebel co-owner] a year ago. Then, Henry asked me to cook a kosher Chinese Christmas dinner since a lot of people who keep kosher haven’t gotten to eat the food we have at BaoHaus,” Huang wrote in an email to The Algemeiner.
Needless to say, the food was a hit. It “was great. Great response,” Stimler wrote in an email. He also boasted on Twitter of the night’s success:
Now, it wasn’t like Huang was some interloper trying to make a quick buck. He sees a real connection between the Jewish community and the Chinese community that makes the Christmas connection obvious. He wrote in his email: “Ha, yea. I mean, I wrote in my book Fresh Off the Boat, that there’s a Jewish analogue for every thing Chinese: Torah: Analects; curly sideburns: Queue (long ponytails); baos: bagels.”
It’s a good thing Huang recognized the ethnic symbiosis, because he couldn’t just walk into the Jezebel kitchen and start putting together traditional dishes: he had to take kosher specifications into account.
“Yes, lots of changes to be kosher. We have to serve the fish before the meat, we can’t use salted fish in our fried rice with eggs, and we have to use tahini instead of sesame paste,”Huang wrote. But that was just the start of it. “Every single dish had to be modified but the challenges are funny and the cultural exchange in the kitchen is really interesting. I went to Cardozo Yeshiva so it’s nothing new to me. It was a lot of fun going to a Yeshiva school where professors would speak Yiddish in class and we basically got all of October off during the High Holidays, but there’s nothing more memorable than teaching two Rabbis how to make Uyghur style dumplings on Christmas at a Kosher restaurant in Soho. That’s some only in New York s**t,” Huang wrote.
And what about missing out on the rest and relaxation, as well as the gifts and family time that come with the holiday?
Wrote Huang: “I have one friend, Steven Lau, that got me a present for Christmas. Needless to say, I didn’t need a tree to put things under. I’d rather be making money in the kitchen so I can buy everything people return on the 26th.”
Jezebel’s Christmas menu is posted below.