Speaking to Yahoo! Life’s “Deglazed,” Melton, 31, shared that no matter where he is – whether that be Alaska, Germany, Kansas or South Korea – his mother’s food is guaranteed to make him feel more at home.
“I always felt like I had home with food,” Melton told the publication. “It’s a no-brainer to say my mom’s meals are the best meals I ever ate.”
Melton’s mother, Sukyong, moved to the United States after marrying his U.S. military father, Phil Melton, in 1990. His father was ordered to join the Gulf War in 1991. At the time, Sukyong was pregnant in an unfamiliar country where she had no friends.
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“I can’t imagine being a woman and coming from a different country to being pregnant with a baby, with me,” Melton told “Good Morning America” in 2020. “Then spending a year with your in-laws and your sisters-in-law, who you’ve never met, while your husband is at war for the next year, not knowing if he’s gonna come back, and that takes a lot and my mom did that.” After Melton — who starred alongside Yara Shahidi in the 2019 teen drama film “The Sun is Also a Star” — realized that he had taken his mother’s cooking “for granted” while visiting his family during a holiday, he decided to learn how to make her meals. The “Riverdale” actor asked his mother to teach him how to prepare some of his favorite home-cooked Korean dishes, including tteokbokki (spicy rice cake), doenjang-jjigae (soybean paste stew) and Korean barbecue.
“She taught me a bunch of tricks,” Melton said about his mother’s method of cooking, which does not involve cookbooks or measuring cups. “She would ask me what does this need? Is this too spicy? Too salty?”
After some training, Melton can now cook bulgogi, a Korean dish made of marinated beef, and a “decent version” of kimchi, which he usually brings to potlucks.
“Food connects. It creates a bridge to my mother,” he told Deglazed. “I’m always calling her up for recipes … asking her, ‘Do I use this? Do I use that?'”