Is American culture inherently wasteful?
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: Is American culture inherently wasteful?
David Chang: Oh most definitely. America is the most wasteful country in the world. It’s a country of abundance, which is why we don’t have a food culture.
I don’t know if we’re ever going to have a food culture, but because we produce so much food and have so much excess of everything, particularly food, I don’t know if America has never been hungry, really hungry for a long period of time, like many other countries.
Granted we’re not as old as other countries, but almost everywhere else, food is cherished, and people are knowledgeable about it.
When I lived in Japan, I was like, “Oh my god. Everybody knows everything about food.” What fish is in season to the vegetables. The product and the quality of the product is so high, and you can eat well even on the cheap there. Everything is affordable. Even affordable food is delicious, and that was a big moment for me – a watershed moment you could say, where I was like, “Wow, food doesn’t have to be great on a fine dining level.”
The super wealthy people don’t have to eat well. And America; to appreciate food, to really enjoy it, is almost viewed as snobbery and elitism, whereas in other countries it’s not. It’s like wow. Like this is part of our culture. This is part of our heritage. This is part of who we are, is cooking and enjoying food.
And it’s not the case here. It’s about hamburgers, and hot dogs, and pizzas and French fries.
Topic: Worshipping Tripe and Offal
David Chang: It’s totally overrated.
Because that’s what people grew up eating. Most part for the history of the world, you know, I think Chef Keller said it best. It’s easy to cook the filet mignon. It’s easy to cook the lobster. It’s really hard to cook something that is normally thrown away and make it delicious. And that’s peasant cooking, and that’s where real food comes from. It’s from people that didn’t have the luxurious ingredients. They had to make do with what was best around them.
And it’s funny that it’s deemed “cool cooking.” But that’s real cooking to the cooks, and to us, and a lot of the guys that are coming up with a recipe or working on the recipes.
I know that we have a __________ sweet bread; but we’re trying to make something that’s normally delicious. Everyone wants sweet bread for the most part.
But like, say, pig’s tails, or trotters, or even like stomach, that’s hard.
Americans right now in the culinary world, or at least in the media, I think they enjoy it more because of the novelty of it all; that it’s different or it’s sort of chic. But there’s nothing chic about stomach, or tripe, or pig’s head. There’s nothing sexy about that or cool. That’s what you should be doing anyways.
"Oh, most definitely."
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