David Chang On Growing Up Korean-American
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 your Korean heritage shaped your worldview?
David Chang: My Korean heritage, it’s something that I didn’t really appreciate ‘til later. And sometimes it was something I felt guilty about sometimes. Because I didn’t really fit in sometimes. I didn’t fit in when I lived in Korea because I wasn’t “Korean” Korean. I’m what they call a “________”, which is an American-born Korean.
And I didn’t fit in with the kids I went to school with because I wasn’t white. And I didn’t fit in with the Korean Americans because I hung out with the white kids.
So it created awkward situations for me, but I had to adjust.
An American-born Korean, but feeling neither wholly Korean nor wholly American.
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