An Interview with Drag Queen Kim Chi and Youtube Chef Jon Kung

Kim Chi’s TikTok is @kimchieats. Not “Kim Chi does make-up,” not “Kim Chi from RuPaul’s Drag Race,” but Kim Chi, the drag queen and entrepreneur, eats. She eats Chipotle and cooks Korean beef radish stew. She sums up her having adventures while touring the globe, and even partnered with Imodium and Pepcid AC for some gastrointestinal realness. So when she approached her buddy chef Jon Kung of YouTube’s Kung Meals about undertaking a podcast together, could it have been about just about anything but food stuff?

Kim Chi and Kung’s new podcast, 1 for the Table, is like hanging out with two buddies who have the best cafe suggestions. They talk about the value of rice throughout cultures and hating licorice desserts, the discrepancies amongst wonderful eating in New York and LA, and just about all exciting things they’ve experienced to consume recently. They are humorous and opinionated, and most of all curious. As Kung states, the two of them are the style to consider anything not just once but twice.

Mostly, they the two wished a possibility to talk about foods even far more than they presently do. But they also desired to celebrate how a passion for food stuff can come from wherever you really don’t have to be an qualified to like or communicate about it. We spoke to Kim Chi and Kung about the similarities involving Korean and Chinese cultures, the couple dishes they have a tricky time consuming, and if there is this kind of a point as queer foodstuff.

Eater: How did you two fulfill?

Kim Chi: Jon and I very first satisfied at Motor Town Pride in 2016. I was in my dressing area and Jon basically stumbled in drunk with his close friend. Afterwards the promoter asked me, “Do you want me to consider you out to supper at a cafe or do you want to have a private chef prepare dinner for you?” I was like, “Oh, I’ll get the non-public chef to cook dinner for me.” The chef was essentially Jon. He then went to Entire Foods, I imagine?

Jon Kung: I did not actually concur to do it, but my best buddy agreed for me. The next thing I keep in mind was him driving me to Total Food items the place we spent 45 minutes browsing for ingredients. At this time, there was a scenario where by I was the only human being in my overall building and the developing consisted of 4 apartments and I experienced accessibility to all of them. I quite much made use of each and every single kitchen in each condominium to whip up this four- or five-program food for Kim in like an hour.

Were you nonetheless drunk at this stage?

JK: I sobered up by the time I got household since it is like, you get into cook manner: We’re rather infamous for working underneath extreme situations. By that time I was high-quality, and Kim came in and we bonded around the food, and it was a nice little encounter. Then 1 issue led to another wherever Kim, you arrived down and ate it’s possible one particular or two additional situations due to the fact you had gigs in the metropolis. Then you invited me to go to P-City? We went to Provincetown with each other and it turns out we ended up really good travel buddies. Provincetown turned into Joshua Tree and then an astounding journey to Taiwan. And then I guess we realized we were buddies.

You described in the podcast notes that you two generally wind up talking about food stuff when you’re alongside one another. What was the impetus for the podcast?

JK: We had expended some time on the street, and seen that we have been usually chatting about food items or nearly anything linked to food stuff. Then when, out of the blue, Kim outlined the podcast.

KC: The stuff we talk about is quite academic, so why really don’t we place in a podcast sort and see if persons like it? We have our combo: Men and women appreciate Jon’s content material on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube. I have supporters that are normally like, “Oh, I like your mukbang, I like what you do with the food items.” I was like, “All right, it feels all-natural to do a podcast.”

You have focused on East Asian cuisines and cooks. What discussions all over people cuisines do you come to feel have been lacking from the common general public?

JK: I sense like we’re two people that have a identical lived encounter, even nevertheless ethnically we are wholly different, and had been elevated in another way. Our adore for foodstuff is what unifies us. As far as who is obtaining that conversation, it feels like there are not that quite a few foodies who seem like us. I imply, except you’re super-hyper-founded like David Chang.

Kim and I have an possibility to journey, we’re the two very adventurous, but at the similar time, we’re not definitely out to do everything but appreciate ourselves and share that appreciate with men and women. Meals podcasts are not straightforward to do for the reason that in the long run it’s a very limiting matter. But we managed to increase to other features of our personal cultures and identities.

KC: I believe our purpose with the podcast is to not to be just a different podcast that talks about roast hen in gravy, but also discuss about the way food items connects with people today and the way persons can relate to food, and perhaps even unearth the generational trauma that comes with our foods.

I want to get into that, because in the conversations about Asian American and second-era Asian identity, foodstuff is taken care of as inseparable from that id. Why do you feel that is?

KC: For Koreans, when they see their mates, the to start with matter they say is, “Have you eaten still?” When you are developed grown ups, the least difficult point you can do is go and get a meal with just about every other. Time just goes by if you’re sharing a food and obtaining a dialogue about it. Meals is also a person thing that everybody has an viewpoint on, no matter if you like it or not. It’s an effortless way to relate to folks and it is an quick way to get an insight into a person’s psyche.

JK: In Chinese society we also request, “Have you eaten yet?” even in put of other phrases such as, “I love you.” In Asian American communities — particularly areas the place you do not have significant populations of Chinese folks — there are a good deal of situations where, in all this detachment from that larger lifestyle, meals is your only connection. A good deal of persons come to feel pretty strongly about these things because occasionally that’s their only window into this component of on their own. I call a great deal of the foods I make Chinese foods, but it troubles what Chinese American food stuff is. I get a great deal of pushback from Chinese people, like, “That is not the foodstuff my grandmother designed.” I’m like, “Well, you know what? The meals that your grandmother created may not have been great.”

I’d adore to talk a little bit much more about positioning yourselves as public belief-havers on food when so frequently the reactions can be, “Well, how do you know what you’re speaking about? What’s your history? How dare you even counsel that what my grandmother created, that there might be a distinctive way to make that?”

KC: Ahead of I was executing drag and all the glamorous things I’m accomplishing now, I worked in rapid food. I labored as a barista. I worked as a sandwich maker at a factory. I have worked in high-quality dining for a lot of a long time. I truly feel like I undoubtedly have a voice and a large amount of my supporters are fascinated in hearing it.

JK: We are each the type of people that will try a thing and if we really do not like it, we’ll attempt it once again to make certain. And if we still really don’t like it, we’ll try out the identical matter once more designed by an individual else to just be doubly confident. I never imagine possibly of us can identify a dish that we can’t appreciate in some way, for the reason that we’ve been on the acquiring conclude of owning our food stuff bashed in some way. Possessing skilled that, we are additional interested in gassing up other cultures’ food for the reason that there’s so considerably to really like. Genuinely the most superb, pornographic issue is to listen to Kim speak about meals.

Is there any foods both of you begun off not liking and have appear to enjoy much more?

KC: For me, it is food produced with anchovies. Growing up, I was like, “That sounds gross.” But now that I have developed up, anchovies are a single of my go-to pizza toppings. The salty, fishy flavor paired with the salty cheese and tomato sauce: chef’s kiss. Each time I designed pasta at property when I was young, I was just throwing in marinara or a jar of creamy sauce. But now do more of an oil-based pasta dish wherever I melt the anchovies with some garlic and chile flakes and then just toss pasta in it. Extremely straightforward, but so flavorful and very good.

JK: I imagine the major issues I have experienced with food stuff ended up your regular childhood icks — nearly anything fishy, nearly anything bitter. One particular flavor profile that I have the toughest time with, due to the fact I’ve received a seriously delicate nose, is something that’s also alkaline. Century eggs, mainly because they’ve been preserved in lye: This does not taste poor, but it physically hurts my nose. I nevertheless would eat it in any case. There is this Scandinavian preserved shark dish that seemingly is like that.

KC: Koreans have a dish like that way too, but it is built of skate wing. It just reeks of ammonia.

Kim, clearly you have incorporated food into your drag. We communicate about all these foodstuff from various ethnic and cultural traditions, and I’m curious if possibly of you believe there is these a detail as queer food stuff?

KC: The to start with thing I can imagine of is base-pleasant foods. There are basically a whole lot of diet programs and guidelines out there for men and women owning anal sexual intercourse. Superior fiber, no dairy.

JK: Brunch to me has an ingredient of queerness to it, simply for the reason that it is a regular time when you get with your picked out relatives users. The other thing is desserts — and not just because there’s a queer vibe to desserts, but I know so lots of cookie businesses and ice product providers that are headed by queer people. There is a little something about the pleasure driving them that is attractive. I feel staying queer lends you to getting fearless creatively, which displays in any way that you are trying to specific your self. I just come about to do it as a result of food. A great deal of what I do, I credit to currently being a queer individual because it liberates you to be cost-free from societal roadblocks normally linked with toxic masculinity. People aren’t as expressive when they never come to feel like they are authorized to be and queer men and women are just magically the reverse.

Your podcast is all about being passionate about food in all these distinctive means. What is your number 1 suggestion for becoming a lot more open-minded and curious about meals?

KC: My issue is to constantly solution every little thing with regard. Even if it’s an component or a taste mix that’s unfamiliar to you, really don’t ever say, “Oh, that’s disgusting,” due to the fact to somebody else, that is quite offensive. Just about every ingredient has a lifetime, and they give that existence to be consumed by you. Just handle it with regard that it justifies.

JK: What’s so wonderful about becoming an adventurous eater, when you are making an attempt new items frequently, is that if you really do not like something, that may possibly be a couple seconds of your life that you could not get pleasure from. But if you try some thing new and you conclusion up loving it, you’ve just found out a new enjoy, and you will enjoy it eternally. The hazard is absolutely well worth it, if just for the sake of that discovery. It’s a further resource of pleasure that you will normally have for the rest of your lifestyle.

KC: Also generating a personality out of not liking matters is so pathetic. Like, “I never like raspberries.” Why?

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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