David Chang
Chef & Owner, Momofuku Restaurants

How has globalization changed the way we eat?

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Its white asparagus season somewhere, right?

David Chang

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: How has globalization changed the way we eat?


David Chang:  Now it’s like the joke is, I don’t have white asparagus, but it’s white asparagus season somewhere right?  And you can get anything, anywhere, all the time, and that’s sort of weird and awesome. But that defeats the purpose of sustainability and stuff like that.  But the notion of sustainability, at least in New York City, is completely overrated because we’re not going to be able to feed anybody if we only have to cook in a 25 mile radius.  You could. 

I think there’s a restaurant in near Copenhagen called Noma, and they only use produce within a 25 mile radius.  And it’s supposedly awesome.  That’s a restaurant I’d definitely want to go to. 

But in a lot of ways, it’s not feasible at all.  And I’m not trying to be a pragmatist or anything, but it needs to work at the same time.


Question: What are the drawbacks?


David Chang: It’s the same place everywhere. You can get anything all the time.  Maybe the freshness might not be as perfect, or the fish might not be as pristine; but there’s something nice about going to another country or another part of the world and getting something that’s only specifically there. 

Globalization has been awesome because we can get our hands on different product now.  But I want to eat oranges in the right season.  I want to eat plums in the right season.  I want to eat strawberries when they’re perfectly ripe. 

I think the biggest thing you can see is tomatoes.  I don’t want to see a tomato that’s not in season.  It shouldn’t be on hamburgers everywhere.  They’re disgusting.  They really are. 

And the sort of greenhouse tomato that is commercially produced, it’s great but it’s a waste because it’s disgusting.  It’s probably better to eat it at the right time. 

But again that’s hard now because globalization; you can get a tomato at anytime that’s been properly raised.  Or not even properly raised; that’s in season and it’s ripe.

I don’t know.