“Uncle Dave just said stupid,” Elliot says, looking at his dad.
“Hey, Elliot, I’m sorry,” Chang tells the five-year-old. “I have a potty mouth.”
In the “Kid’s Menu” episode of the popular Netflix series, David Chang visits the celebrated Korean restaurant, where employees roll dumplings while Cho and co-owner Sun Young Park show Chang around the home-meets-restaurant. Cho and Park’s children, Elliot and Frankie, snack while the couple talks about their experiences moving from the fast-paced New York dining world to Portland’s relaxed restaurant market.
“There’s no New York Times star ratings, there’s no Michelin guide, there’s none of the pressures I felt in New York,” Cho tells him. “I can just cook the food I want to cook for myself, for my friends and my family.”
The entire episode centers around Chang processing life in the culinary industry as a soon-to-be father, and the chef travels around the country talking to chefs and parents as they discuss the balance of work and life. But, as Cho says outright, creating a strict barrier between work and family is extraordinarily challenging. For Park and Cho, who live in an apartment within the Han Oak building, it’s easier to eliminate the premise of a separation than to try to create some sort of non-existent “balance.”
“A lot of people come in here and say ‘How do you separate work and life?’ and I don’t see how you can,” he says. “I don’t see you how you can say, ‘Okay, bye Elliot, I’ll see you in 14 hours.’”
Park and Cho capture something often echoed by some of Portland’s most talented chefs: The move to Portland has far less to do with the actual dining scene here, and much more to do with the quality of life. When Bar King owners Jamie King and Shaun King talked about moving to Portland, they referenced it as a potential place to raise a family, outside the glitz and demand of cities like Las Vegas; when Jin Caldwell of Jinju Patisserie talked about moving from Las Vegas, she mentioned a similar craving for a balanced, mellower lifestyle. Portland, as a city, is famously laid back, with an inexpensive cost of living compared to places like New York and San Francisco; however, to see a chef actually praise the lack of Michelin presence in Portland is even more indicative of why chefs move here: to exhale.
Season two of Ugly Delicious is now streaming on Netflix.
• Ugly Delicious [Official]
• A Humbler, More Vulnerable David Chang Emerges in ‘Ugly Delicious’ Season 2 [Eater]
• Previous Han Oak coverage [EPDX]
Disclosure: David Chang is producing shows for Hulu in partnership with Vox Media Studios, part of Eater’s parent company, Vox Media. No Eater staff member is involved in the production of those shows, and this does not impact coverage on Eater.