Lisa Ling And Helen Cho On The Importance Of Asian American Culture Seen In Take Out - Exclusive

Journalist Lisa Ling is known for her work as host of "This is Life With Lisa Ling" and "The View." Helen Cho has worked behind the scenes on a number of television shows, including "United Shades of America" and "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown." Even though the duo has worked in the television industry for years, their new show, "Take Out With Lisa Ling" may be their favorite yet.

"'Take Out" makes its debut today on HBO Max with a focus on Asian food. The show highlights Asian American history, culture, and food in a way that's never been done before, and Ling and Cho are thrilled to share it with the rest of the world.

What inspired the new show in the first place? We sat down with Ling and Cho to find out. In an exclusive interview with Mashed, Lisa Ling and Helen Cho revealed why exactly it was so crucial to shine a light on Asian American culture with this new series.

Highlighting Asian Americans

Despite the number of food shows that have made a debut on television, having a series dedicated to Asian food is unprecedented. "It's interesting because Asian restaurants, particularly Chinese restaurants, have become more ubiquitous than McDonald's," said Ling. "Yet there have been no shows that highlight the Asian-American experience."

Ling and Cho were thrilled to have the show greenlit by HBO Max even before the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and before the number of attacks on Asian people began to increase at an alarming rate. "In light of those things, I think it's become more important than ever to highlight these kinds of stories, because let's face it, Asian American history is not taught in schools," said Ling. "When you exclude an entire community from your education and your history books, it becomes so easy to overlook and even dehumanize an entire population." 

That green light from HBO Max allowed Ling and Cho to really dive into the stories behind Asian foods, the restaurateurs making them, or the people who have played a huge role in the agricultural industry in the United States. "Everyone loves Asian food but hasn't really taken the time to get to know the stories behind those foods," said Ling.

Why Lisa Ling and Helen Cho chose food as the lens for Take Out

Media portrayals of Asian Americans haven't always been positive, and Ling and Cho sought to change that with Take Out. "I've always felt that Asian Americans have been portrayed in media as this perpetual foreigner," said Cho. In choosing to highlight the stories of Asian Americans, Ling and Cho used food because of the approachable, diplomatic role it can play in everyday life. "Everyone loves Asian food. Right?" said Ling. "I mean, food, it transcends struggle. It transcends gender. It transcends culture and ethnicity."

By using food, and the stories of Asian Americans making incredible dishes, Ling and Cho had a great jumping off point. It allowed for an introduction, as well as a segue to dive into the bigger picture, ultimately sharing the important stories of Asian American history and the many contributions Asian Americans have had within the United States.

For more from Lisa Ling and Helen Cho, subscribe to HBO Max and watch "Take Out with Lisa Ling," which is now streaming.