David Chang is a Korean-American chef who is known for his unique combination of Asian food and French technique. After graduating Trinity College, Chang worked briefly in the financial services before embarking upon his career as a chef. Chang attended the French Culinary Institute and opened his first restaurant, Momofuku Noodle Bar, in Manhattan's East Village in 2003. Momofuku proved a resounding success; food critics as well as customers loved the restaurant's signature dishes, such as the Asian burrito and the kimchi and pork consomme.
In 2006, Chang opened his a second restaurant, Momofuku Ssam Bar. Chang was honored as both GQ and Bon Appetit's 2007 Chef of the Year. Chang is unapologetic about his food. "We do not serve vegetarian-friendly items," Chang has said. "Vegetarians are a pain in the ass as customers."
Question: Do you have a creative process?
David Chang: Creative processes for us are throwing whatever is gonna stick on the wall and seeing from there. And from there it’s a progression of accidents to wherever we get.
It’s funny. I read some stuff, or people tell me, “Oh, you’re so clever with opening __________ Bar, or doing Noodle Bar,” or whatever. They think there’s some big marketing scheme or PR plan behind it. But no.
It was just a bundle of mistakes that happened, and it was, “Oh we can’t do that anymore.” Or, “That’s a bad idea.”
We tried to open up a fast food restaurant, and it sort of evolved into this crazy Asianish bistro that’s vaguely Asian if that.
So the creative process for us is to be open to make mistakes. And if you’re going to make a mistake, make a big one. Be passionate about your ideas. That’s the biggest thing. And it’s true. I do say that a lot.
Everyone has to contribute and don’t be shy about it. And even if it’s the wrong thing, or wrong idea, or something that’s creative that could take us in a bad direction, as long as you’re passionate about it, and you feel strongly about it, and there’s some logical reason why we’re doing it, then let’s do that. I’d rather have that than to be stuck in these parameters where we can only do it this way.
Question: Where do you get new recipe ideas?
David Chang: Sometimes it’s not necessarily going to restaurants. A lot of times I’d be thinking about something and well, I just finished a meal and now I can’t do this, this, and this because someone’s already doing it.
Most of the time that happens when I go to WD-50. Not that I could ever do that, but a lot of his ideas I’m like, “Fuck.” Wiley’s done it. Or I go to restaurants to find out what I can’t do.
And the creative process is, a lot of times, the simple cheap meals.
We go to Chinatown and that roast pork dish is delicious. And it was a weird flavoring combination, so how are we going to replicate that?
And it’s the stuff that we eat on a daily basis, whether that’s like how the poppy seed on that sesame seed bagel has that long aftertaste. Like maybe that will parallel with a ___________ or something like that.
That’s usually how it happens. We’ll take an idea and we’ll try to run with it as far as we can.