On his first night of a week-long run helming LTO, a pop-up seafood restaurant in Chinatown, head chef Eddie Huang found the place unexpectedly understaffed. Down two sous chefs, he was forced to use a technique he deemed “octopus cooking.”
“I was cooking with my hands, my feet. If my dick could cook, it would cook too,” he said, presiding over a party at the downtown space late last Friday. “I mean my dick does cook, but I try not to serve it like that.”
Mr. Huang is a young chef who has created an indelibly loud persona that’s part David Chang, part Waka Flocka Flame, but all Eddie “General Loko” Huang, all the time—all of this by means of his blog, Fresh Off the Boat, and an ecstatic Twitter feed that’s only marginally about cooking. His Lower East Side sandwich shop, Baohaus, is smaller than a bathroom at Lavo, yet he’s tying up talks to star in his own television show, just scooped up a book deal with Random House and will soon open new restaurants in both Manhattan and Brooklyn.
He can also put together a raucous late-night event.
“No cover, no bullshit, just some motherfuckers who wanna party. AIIITTEEE?” read the message he posted on Fresh Off the Boat.
The official flyer promised, “We hooked up drink and weed specials so expect to have a very chill time.”
“This is the consigliore!” Mr. Huang said of an approaching Prince Language, the night’s D.J. “I just said, ‘My dick does cook but not for the public. Only private dinners.’”
“Well, of course, Eddie,” the Prince responded. “If your dick cooks for the public, then you’re Anthony Weiner.”
“And I’m serving crabs, not giving crabs,” Mr. Huang said.
The Observer first met Mr. Huang last November. There was this otherwise unassuming little Taiwanese noodle joint—a vest-pocket establishment among the morass of bars on Orchard Street—and one night it attracted a heady crew of flushed and drunk and amped kids who overflowed onto the sidewalk outside The Observer’s apartment. Mr. Huang’s Xiao Ye was hosting an open bar stocked with the now-banned, devilish concoction Four Loko, a highly caffeinated malt-liquor swill.
“I mean dude,” Huang said to The Observer on that November night, during the erstwhile party’s full swing. “It tastes fantastic, it gets you fucked up and it’s cheap. That’s what you look for in a drink, right?”
A search for Four Loko will now sate no jones, as the island’s been rid of the stuff for months. And though the ensuing outrage over the drink doomed Xiao Ye—the space is now a Lower East Side taqueria called Taqueria Lower East Side—Mr. Huang rode the Loko wave to a crush of popularity.
He instructed the bouncer outside LTO, a large black man, “We gonna do it Paid in Full style!” referencing the cover photo of the classic hip-hop record. The man towered over the chef’s short and blocky frame, and they leaned back-to-back, forearms clenched and crossed.
“That’s it? That’s awful!” he said to the photographer, after checking out the results. “We gotta do it again. You can’t take pictures, man. Never hire this guy” he advised The Observer.
Back inside, the pop-up’s temporary environs rocked with body thrust and noise.
“How high are you right now?” The Observer asked, attention piqued by the flyer and further stoked by a certain recurring smell.
“I’m not high at all, not at all—what uuuuup! This is one of my cooks.”
Others filed through to say hello. Elliot Aronow, founder and creative director of mp3 site RCRD LBL, had been hand-printing flyers for the event, while it was Mr. Huang who alerted the masses online.
“This man has the best fucking hair in lower Manhattan,” the chef said of Mr. Aronow. He did have a distinctive plume of black, even if the top strands reached only to The Observer’s chin.
“It’s so cute to see Eddie in his Sunday best,” Mr. Aronow said, by which he meant “not a T-shirt.” “Sprezzatura,” he expounded, “anyone who’s serious about clothes know what that means, and the joie de vivre … ”
“ … I only wear this for the blazing girls from the Nelly videos,” Mr. Huang interrupted.
Then, we asked the rising chef about his forthcoming memoir, which Publisher’s Weekly called “a gonzo foodie’s journey pitched in the tradition of Anthony Bourdain and a classic immigrant coming-of-age story.”
“Yo, I got the same publishing house as Hov!” he declared. The imprint is Spiegel & Grau, which published Jay Z’s most recent book, Decoded.
“They know that I’m more than just a cook. I have a lot of interests, a lot of stories,” he continued.
He paused to think up one last allusion, and landed on a reference to the first Notorious B.I.G. record. “I got a really good story,” Mr. Huang said. “I’m ready to die.”
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