Huang time coming
Is Orlando expatriate Eddie Huang the next Anthony Bourdain?
Published: February 27, 2013
"When the helmets and pads were on, for 60 minutes, I wasn't Chinese anymore. I was part of the team." (p.71)
Once that pattern was set, Huang ended up on a tour of Orlando schools, attending five in seven years. At Trinity Prep, he fell under the spell of organized football and under the wing of a sympathetic coach who didn't know quite what to do with him. Huang sees now that he was "a lil' shih tzu tryin' to run with the pit bulls" but at the time, he didn't care: "Instead of being singled out and laughed at for being Chinese, I was being laughed at for totally sucking at football. It was a relief."
"Restaurants were going up all over the place. … It was a theme-park and sunshine-fueled boomtown." (p.19)
Huang grew up in the restaurant business – his father, Louis Huang, is a tourist-area hospitality mogul. After starting out with the Atlantic Bay Seafood Grill, Huang's father went on to open Cattleman's Steakhouse on International Drive, still his most successful venture. Attempts to branch out into fine dining (Bola Ristorante) and move into downtown (Black Olive, Blue Smoke Burger Bar) didn't work out quite so well. At the leading edge of his celebrity in 2010, Eddie killed two birds with one stone, combining a holiday visit to the fam with a Baohaus pop-up at Cattleman's. Plans to do so again, if they exist, are being held close to the vest.
"Fire-red Jordan Vs with the lace locks. … The shits were so fresh, it was like having cars on your feet." (p.42)
Birth of an obsession: Huang first spied sneakers that made him understand "wanting to jack someone" on a middle-school basketball court. After begging his parents to take him to the Belz Outlet Mall to score his own pair, he got a hard lesson instead in how spending money can't make you someone you're not. Shoes are still uppermost, but he's become a connoisseur and moved on to the impossible-to-find: "The only shoes I still want are the [Nike] Union 180 and Galaxy Foamposites," he says now.
"I needed to get away … There was an individual inside me that wasn't Chinese, that wasn't American, that wasn't Orlando." (p.129)
When asked if he has plans for an Orlando Baohaus, Huang responds with characteristic bluntness: "Naw, I love my friends and family in Orlando, but it's a soulless place that really needs to get off Mickey's dick and create an independent identity. It's not healthy to be married to the Mouse."
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