As Huang tells it, he’s spent his whole life striving for authenticity – in himself and in his food. “My food was, is, and always will be ill.” He evolves as a cook, moving from work as a young expediter in his father’s restaurant on to food experiences in Pittsburgh and his parents' native Taiwan. He lands a gig as an amateur chef competing on the food network, and finally goes on to open his critically acclaimed “Baohaus” sandwich shop on the Lower East Side of New York. His life story weaves big themes of racism, assimilation, abuse, violence, drug use, materialism, basketball, and humor together.
As a boy, he found he related to the '90s hip-hop/rap scene through the pain in his own life. As a fiend for food, he also found solace in good cooking wherever it could be found. Orlando, Fla., the land where dreams go to sell out, was a tough place to grow up. He and his friends had lots of money, lots of time, and got into lots of trouble. Watching him grow up from a punk kid to somewhat-less-of-a-punk adult is sometimes painful to witness, but the journey is rewarding. "As a kid trying to maintain my identity in America.... I could taste something one time and make it myself at home. When everything else fell apart and I didn't know who I was, food brought me back."
TV chef Anthony Bourdain says, “He [Huang] is bigger than food,” and you had better believe it. Huang has two fingers on the pulse of US culture, and it has served him well in his quest for a socially relevant restaurant. The concept of his restaurant "Baohaus" has always been about community. For him, making good, ethical food is the right thing to do (as is "hotboxing" his own restaurant).