David Chang Calls for an End to the Supermarket “Ethnic” Aisle

The chef calls the aisle "the last bastion of racism that you can see in full daylight in retail America"

David Chang poses during the festivities marking the 25th anniversary of French chef Alain Ducasse's restaurant "Le Louis XV", on November 17, 2012 in Monaco. (AFP PHOTO / VALERY HACHE)
David Chang poses during the festivities marking the 25th anniversary of French chef Alain Ducasse's restaurant "Le Louis XV", on November 17, 2012 in Monaco. (AFP PHOTO / VALERY HACHE)
By Bonnie Stiernberg / October 2, 2019 6:01 am

On a recent episode of his podcast, famed chef and restaurateur David Chang called for the end of the supermarket “ethnic” food aisle — where everything from tortillas to naan and soy sauce is shoved into one aisle —calling it “the last bastion of racism that you can see in full daylight in retail America.”

“It’s something that’s got to go,” Chang said on the podcast, arguing that the aisle is a form of segregation. Asian and Latino cuisine has long been accepted by the American mainstream, he pointed out, and products like instant ramen and tortilla soups sit next to boxes of chicken soup, yet other items inexplicably get relegated to “ethnic” or “international” aisles.

“All the foods in the ethnic food aisle are already accepted. So why do we even have them?” he asked The Washington Post. He recalled shopping in the “ethnic” aisle growing up as the child of immigrants and how it signaled to him that he was viewed as an outsider. “We were always going to be different,” Chang said. “We were never going to be accepted.”

Goya Foods senior vice president Joseph Perez agreed with Chang, noting that in the early days, Goya products were often stored in the back of supermarkets, out of sight. “They didn’t want the clientele in their stores,” Perez said. “David Chang was not off the mark.”

Subscribe here for our free daily newsletter.

Daily Brief

15 Things to Know Today, from RealClearLife

October 14, 2019 October 13, 2019