For a religion studies major, David Chang has done pretty f*cking well for himself. He runs 16 restaurants around the world, one of which has had 2 Michelin stars since 2009. He’s written a bestselling cookbook, put together a widely acclaimed food journal called Lucky Peach and also made a TeeVee show with Anthony Bourdain.
So how did all this happen? Pure genius.
My favourite David Chang quote is “I want the diners to smack their heads and think, “F*ck, why didn’t I think of that?” It’s like when you go to MOMA and think, “I could’ve done that.” …but you didn’t.”
Chang’s ability lies in taking a dish, distilling it down into its components to understand what makes it so good, and then taking each component to the next level. He does this by discarding the unnecessary and spotlighting the best. This understanding of how to treat an ingredient resonates through his book. His recipes range from 3-4 ingredient ones that take a few minutes to put together what he (rightly) calls the world’s longest chicken wing recipe.
He’s truly a culinary alchemist–anything he touches turns to (super appetizing) gold. Just look at the line at Fuku, his new fried chicken sandwich place that opened in New York a few days ago. He’s even good at the sweet stuff. He and his pastry chef Christina Tosi came up with a pie so good, they named it crack pie.
His two most famous dishes are arguably the ramen and pork buns he made at his first restaurant, Momofuku. What’s even more remarkable is how these dishes have stood the test of time–a decade since they were first put on his menu; the affection they receive from diners hasn’t wavered.
To me, Momofuku is the single best restaurant name I’ve ever heard, and not just because it’s kinda homonymous to “motherf*cker,” but also because it’s a nod to Momofuku Ando–the inventor of instant ramen and the founder of Nissin.
Needless to say, I’m not his only fan. His list of awards on Wikipedia doesn’t fit on my laptop screen, something I probably can’t say for the list of awards you won in high school.
Full (and rather sad) disclosure: I have never eaten at Momofuku (or any of his other restaurants), I’ve probably never been within 3000 kilometres of Chang. The closest I’ve come to him is 12 inches away from my computer screen. Despite this, he is probably the one chef whose food continually makes my mouth water. I can’t wait to lose my Chang virginity–or should I say, I cant wait to get Momofuku’d.