Updated: Feb 1
This former Eleven Madison Park sous-chef is mentoring the struggling Asian-American youth during the crisis while challenging the entrenched notions that Americans have of Chinese cuisine.
Photo: Courtesy by Eric Huang
Eric Huang grew up in a Chinese restaurant in New York and has always had a love of the stimuli and the energy that pervades a busy dining room. Like most first-generation Asian immigrants, he was not supposed to be "wasting" his parents' sacrifice by going into the hospitality industry. At home, Eric wasn't allowed to cook because he was force-fed a life of classical music training and had to keep his fingers safe for the cello. Fast forward to a stint at The Juilliard School, a subsequent expulsion, he then sneaked his way into Northwestern University. Having an existential crisis about what he wanted to do with his life, Huang wandered back into a restaurant to ultimately become a chef.
Eric Huang has deepened his skills in New York City’s most renowned fine dining restaurants from Café Boulud to Gramercy Tavern, to finish most recently as a sous chef at the Michelin starred NYC institution: Eleven Madison Park. After almost 10 years spent in the fine dining industry, Eric was in the process of opening his restaurant as a means to challenge the somewhat entrenched notions that Americans have of Chinese food. Then Covid-19 decided otherwise. Huang found himself back at his uncle’s restaurant where he is serving up fried chicken as part of his new delivery pop-up project: Pecking House.
During the pandemic, Huang decided it was also time to give back. After hearing the stories of Asian children being harassed and bullied over unjustified COVID fears, he felt now was a critical time to do a mentorship with APEX for Youth to try making a difference in a young person's life.
Welcome Eric to Chefs for Impact!
By Eric Huang as told to Chefs for Impact
How is your Pecking house project going?
“Since the pandemic started, I've been trying to figure it out like everybody else. I started delivering fried chicken to people about a month ago and it’s been quite successful; people are enjoying it. I still want to open my restaurant one day but the whole landscape is changing.”
What was/is the vision behind the restaurant you were about to open?
“I have always been passionate about showcasing Chinese cuisine in a modern dining setting. I found Chinese food was incredibly underrepresented in fine dining. The way people perceive Chinese food - at least in America - is cheap. My idea is to bring Chinese