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MUNCHIES Presents: Taiwan's Funeral Feasts

When a friend or relative passes away in Taiwan, you won't go hungry at their funeral. Watch as we attend a ceremonial feast prepared by traditional "village chefs."

In the West, funeral catering is often limited to soggy fruit plates and cold-cut sandwiches. But that's not the case in Taiwan, where local cuisine such as pork buns, fried chicken, and sashimi are on the menu, and the pallbearers get buzzed on rice-wine-heavy chicken soup. Held in honor of the deceased, these funeral feasts are prepared by traditional "village chefs" who specialize in ban-doh—outdoor banquets for community occasions ranging from weddings, births, and funerals to elections and festivals.
Our host Joshua Frank attends the funeral of his friend's grandfather, who insisted before his passing that all guests at his memorial ceremony leave well-fed. Joshua travels to the tiny hamlet where village chef cuisine was born to see how the fading role of the village chef is being passed on between generations, and learns to cook an iconic ban-doh dish with a modern twist at a culinary school revitalizing the classic Taiwanese culinary tradition.