Under the mantra of discovering new things about themselves, the Momofuku founder and chef travels to four different cities with a celebrity friend to eat great food, travel around, and see what happens. The result was things like laughing uproariously with Chrissy Teigen in Marrakesh, Morocco and smoking blunts with Seth Rogen in Vancouver while devouring Chinese food.
Really, David Chang is living his best life right now. If nothing else, he got paid to travel and eat with celebrities. What’s not to be envious of, right?
That said, the series garnered mixed reviews, with some claiming it was the next great food travel show and others panning it for being vapid and without any real purpose. Regardless of what you think, the behind-the-scenes of how it came to be is fascinating.
So whether you’ve binged it, are curious if it’s your cup of tea, or are just obsessed with Momofuku and want to know about everything David Chang has touched, here are a few fun facts about Netflix’s Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner. Just make sure you have your passport ready and an empty stomach, because you’ll probably want to hop on a plane and stuff your face after reading this.
Host David Chang knows a lot about food
If you don’t know who David Chang is, we’re sorry. We’re sorry because he makes some of the tastiest food in New York, if not the entire United States.
Founder and chef of the Momofuku empire, it all started in 2004 when he opened up Momofuku Noodle Bar. These days there are multiple restaurants under his charge around the world, and his media presence is ever growing. Chang was the first chef to be featured on the Emmy-award winning PBS television show, The Mind of a Chef, he has his own podcast, he’s appeared on other shows like Top Chef, and even has his own media company, Majordomo Media.
Named as one of the most influential people in the 21st century by Empire, it’s fair to say that Chang took the culinary world by storm.
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner isn’t Chang’s first Netflix rodeo however. His much acclaimed first series was called Ugly Delicious, which was an eight-part original documentary series about the foods we all love and the stories behind them.
With the success of the first series, it wasn’t long before Chang started on a new one. That was, you guessed it, Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.
David Chang wanted to fill the void Anthony Bourdain left behind
There will never be anyone quite like Anthony Bourdain. The No Reservations and Parts Unknown host and down-to-earth traveler was eternally beloved around the world, and his shows were deep dives into the culture of food and about the people. He is often credited as single-handedly remaking the travel docu-series genre.
David Chang considered the late chef a mentor and friend, and dedicated an entire episode of his podcast to speaking candidly about his own struggles with depression after Bourdain passed away. As such, Chang considered Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner an homage to Bourdain.
Many critics say Chang and his Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner failed to fill the void to fill the void Bourdain left behind. Complaints range from the show being boring in its choice of locations to just being an excuse to hang out with celebrities.
There is probably some truth in that. In Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, Chang isn’t trying to find the origin story of a dish or really understand the culture of the places he visits. It’s more just about eating food and having a chat. The chats are interesting, but they’re not particularly compelling.
Regardless, we think Bourdain would like it — though he’d probably have a well-meaning (yet scathing) critique or two.
The celebrities who guest star on Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner chose the cities
One fascinating bit about Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner is that David Chang didn’t have control over where he was going. His celebrity guests did. That’s right, where he was traveling to and eating was all up to the four starlets he had on the show.
The result was Seth Rogen choosing Vancouver, Chrissy Teigen deciding on Marrakesh, Morocco, Kate McKinnon narrowing it down to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and Lena Waithe bringing it back home to Los Angeles. With destinations across three continents, something the show really gets right is sampling from multiple different cultures and cuisines.
Actress Kate McKinnon said that she chose Cambodia because she likes countries where there isn’t a distinct American conception of what it’s like. On the other hand, Chrissy Teigen chose Marrakesh because she had been a few times and "you just feel more special than you do anywhere else in the world."
Considering Chang has spent a fair amount of time in Los Angeles and Lena Waithe lives there, it almost seems like a cop out to choose the city. However, it’s quickly apparent that there are pockets of LA that Chang has never been to, and it’s those that Waithe introduces him to. As for why Seth Rogen chose Vancouver… we’re about to get to that.
Seth Rogen grew up in the first episode’s destination
Vancouver is Seth Rogen’s hometown. It’s also a melting pot of international cuisine, something Rogen says has to do with why he chose to explore the city with Chang. As a kid growing up, he remembered watching The Breakfast Club and being confused as to why it was weird the characters were flummoxed by Molly Ringwald’s character eating sushi. He had known sushi was a thing, even as a kid, in Vancouver.
The duo travel all over Vancouver, guided by Rogen’s favorite restaurants and haunts. This includes the famous Lee’s Donuts stand at Granville Island Public Market, where Rogen and Chang find just how these delicious donuts are actually made.
The entire episode is as much a love letter to Vancouver as it is to its eclectic culinary scene. Rogen makes sure to take Chang to the Vancouver Aquarium, which he has a soft spot for from his childhood, and has an octopus named after him (it’s called Ceph Rogen… for cephalopod. Get it?).
It could be argued that Vancouver is playing a little double duty in Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, as Chang is opening a Momofuku there in 2020. Chang, you sly devil you.
David Chang admits there wasn’t a clear plan for Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Generally speaking, shows are planned out meticulously. Yes, even your favorite reality shows are partly scripted.
However, when it came to Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, David Chang admits there wasn’t a clear plan. He knew this new show would fall under the Ugly Universe umbrella, but it took input from Tremolo, Majordomo Media, and the team at Netflix to really solidify a sort of an idea. Overall, however, a lot of Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner happens organically.
When it came to the guests, Chang wanted to have people he liked, and wanted to hang out with. He also wanted guests who would show a part of themselves the public doesn’t normally see.
It’s allowing the un-planned that makes the conversations with the guests really shine and take precedence over anything else in the show. Be it allowing Lena Waithe to speak on the injustice against black people in America, or letting Kate McKinnon admit she doesn’t believe she’s a great writer. Sometimes, not planning or having a clue can make for great television.
You can visit (almost) all the places featured on Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
When restaurants, stalls, carts, or hole-in-the-wall eateries are featured on television, it can go one of two ways. There could be a 200 percent rise in business, changing the restaurant forever — or sometimes the exposure isn’t enough and things go back to how they were.
It’s a topic that Seth Rogen and David Chang talk about in Vancouver, wondering if featuring certain small businesses will put them in an overwhelming situation. That is, if you can find some of them. Otafuku in Los Angeles is so underground that you have find the unmarked door in a parking lot. Now that’s a hole-in-the-wall kind of place.
If you want to go on a tour of all the places Chang and his celeb friends eat at in Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, you can find most of them.
Wondering what the best thing that Chang ate during the entire series was? Chang says, despite it being cliche, the fruit in Cambodia was rather life-changing.
Chang and Rogen smoke weed multiple times during Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Watching a show’s host and guest light up a joint isn’t something you see very often. Even as regulations against marijuana usage are relaxing, it’s still a little shocking to an American audience. However, marijuana has been legal in Canada since 2018.
Saying that how they filmed was "pretty ridiculous," David Chang admits that he had a great time in Vancouver with Seth Rogen. It was also where he ate the most. Not really a coincidence there, is it?
If there were any concerns that Rogen’s culinary tour of Vancouver was going to be dull, Chang immediately put that to rest as he opened up the Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner episode saying most of their activities would probably revolve around smoking marijuana. Well, at least Chang knew what he was getting into!
The chef admits he wondered if it was a good idea, but relaxed in the end because he knew he was in a safe space with noted marijuana aficionado Seth Rogen. The joints that Rogen rolls, which he does multiple times on screen, are particularly strong according to Chang — who says he limited himself to one puff per hour.
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner was criticized for being more about travel and celebrity than food
One of the largest criticisms of Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner is that it is too focused on the celebrity guests and their reactions, than on the food or culture being explored.
The show tries to be too many things at once, all while banking on the fact the famous tag-a-longs will bring in viewers. With an excess of celebrity focused shows out in the world, it seems like this addition to the Ugly Delicious universe is just another one to add to the pile. This is particularly apparent in direct comparison to Ugly Delicious itself, which was all about finding the story behind certain dishes, being really focused on the food and what made it authentic.
There is some introspection and some great moments, but there is an overarching feeling that despite these celebrities trying to be down-to-earth and prove they’re "just like you." Still, despite what Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner tries to do, they make it pretty apparent they’ll always be something most people never will.
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner leaned into cultural stereotypes in Morocco
No show is without its share of controversy, and Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner is no exception. In the second episode of the four-part series, Chang heads to Marrakesh, Morocco to meet up with model and media personality Chrissy Teigen. The two became friends because Teigen is a regular at his restaurant, and the pair will be filming another food-based series in the future.
What makes this ironic is that Teigen and Chang talk about the stereotypes and overly romantic or exotic view of Morocco. This is in-part due to the classic film Casablanca and the writings of Jack Kerouac.
However, despite their discussion, the entire episode falls into these stereotypes itself. The episode showcases panning views of the countryside. It highlights the exotic nature of the African country, making it seem like the far off magical place.
Really, it’s just a plane ride away and normal people live their normal lives there. Featuring Morocco and showing how beautiful it is isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it doesn’t exactly subvert all the tropes typically associated with the country.
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner is a major milestone for representation for Asian Americans
The past few years have been amazing for Asian representation in Hollywood, or at least far better than it ever has been.
Chang is vehemently pro-Asian cuisine, not being afraid to dunk on American staples and say they’d be better if done the "Asian way." He’s also outspoken about culinary appropriation in the media, asking that chefs honor where ethnic food comes from. It may come as a surprise then that he was taken aback by being seen as a leader in representation for Asian Americans.
This is most profoundly stated in Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner in conversation with Lena Waithe. He admits that he never thought he’d be so interested in being directly involved in representation for Asian Americans. Waithe comes back with that it only takes one successful thing to really set things off, to cause a ripple effect.
The fact that Chang might just be that ripple effect for Asian Americans, at least in the food industry, is clearly overwhelming for the chef, but also poignant.