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: What is the most underrated cuisine?
David Chang: I think the most underrated cuisine might be Chinese food. People think that Chinese food is just; it’s funny.
Perception has changed. A decade ago, people would be like, “Oh food . . . I just got back from China and the food was terrible.” They were basing their food memories on American, sticky, crappy Chinese food. But by going to China and getting the real stuff, it’s something that they’re not used to. And also they don’t realize that China is a lot larger than Europe, and look how many flavor cuisines that Europe has. China has so many different flavors and different cuisines within their region, and it’s not really represented at all in America.
Question: Will that change with Chinese ascendancy?
David Chang: I don’t know. Americans are pretty stubborn. They like their Panda Express and their egg rolls and General Tsao’s chicken, which is delicious still.
Real Chinese food is totally different, whether it be Shanghainese, or Szechuan, or what.
It’s underrated in this country because I think that it’s not marketable. It’s not aesthetically what Americans are used to in terms of western palate. But the skill level and the fact that some of it is just so damn delicious is not represented.