July 04, 2014 at 04:00 AM EDT

Chef Eddie Huang has been an esteemed guest judge on Top Chef — which he calls ”the gold standard” of food television — yet he jumped at the chance to poke fun at foodie culture by hosting the new MTV cooking series Snack-Off, featuring chef Jason Quinn, supermodel Chrissy Teigen, and comedian Yassir Lester judging amateur chefs who fumble through ”snack-inspired” challenges. Huang, 32, relates to the show’s irreverent, laid-back philosophy about food. ”We eat three times a day, and if we’re lucky, we poop twice,” he says. ”That’s kind of what Snack-Off is all about…. It’s funny to bring cooking down to earth and laugh at ourselves a bit.”

Huang can’t help but be cheerful given his dizzying list of projects, which includes five TV shows in various stages of development. After all, only a few years ago, his biggest claim to fame was Baohaus, a hole-in-the-wall pork bun restaurant in Manhattan. ”My parents can’t understand it,” says Huang. ”They’re like, ‘You have a restaurant, then you wrote a book that doesn’t have to do with food, then you have this food travel show where you don’t cook on it, and then you do this food competition that makes fun of food, and then you went and did an ABC sitcom. Don’t you think your fans are confused?”’

That ABC sitcom is Fresh Off the Boat (based on his 2013 memoir of the same name), which debuts midseason and will be the first network comedy about an Asian-American family since Margaret Cho’s short-lived All-American Girl in 1994. ”People are treating it like this Holy Grail Asian-American show, and I welcome that,” he says. But Huang sees a show like Snack-Off as an equally essential part of his unlikely TV empire. ”It’s a way to show people that to be an Asian-American on TV, you don’t have to be a philosopher or a world traveler or a best-selling writer. You can be a jackass parodying food television!”

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