Four-time James Beard award winner, David Chang, has been instrumental in popularising Modern Asian cuisine in an informal, edgy, non reverential and compelling way. Chang didn’t initially set out to be a chef. He credits the raman at London’s Wagamama he experienced on a vacation for feeding his noodle obsession and convincing him he wanted to be a chef.
It is little known that Chang majored in religious studies and worked briefly in the NYC financial sector before deciding to become a chef. Restaurants were, however, in his blood. Chang was born into the kitchen in 1976 as his father owned two bistros in Washington, DC and food was a huge part of his childhood. Chang trained at the French Culinary Institute whilst working part-time at Mercer Kitchen. He then joined Tom Colicchio’s new restaurant, Craft. Two years later, Chang, determined to understand ramen fully, moved to Japan, initially to teach English, though he also worked at a number of izakaya, and ramen restaurants.
On returning to New York, Chang worked for a year at Café Boulud before opening Momofuku Noodle Bar (with financial support from his father) in the summer of 2004. His next venture was Momofuku Ssam Bar, which opened in 2006. In 2007, Chang moved the noodle bar to a larger location and opened Momofuku Ko in the original location. He also opened omofuku Milk Bar in 2008 as an extension of Ssam Bar specialising in desserts with Christine Tosi. Using local and sustainable ingredients has always been key to Chang’s restaurants, as has challenging conventional expectations of dishes with his singular tasty, creative takes on favourites. As Frank Bruni has written Chang is “a chef who went further than any of his peers in wedding serious, sometimes challenging food and an ultra-casual, spontaneous dining ethos in tune with unbound times.” Ma Peche, which includes a Milk Bar opened in 2010. In the same year, 2010, Chang was recognised by TIME Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the restaurant industry. Momofuku Seiobo was Chang’s first restaurant outside the US run with chef Paul Carmichael. Located in Sydney, it has won countless awards for its Australian produce led food brought to life with Caribbean flavours and Sydney’s diverse multi cultural food influences in the kitchen.
Chang also has a thriving mini empire in Toronto including Kojin which opened in June of 2018 under the watch of executive chef Paula Navarrete. The restaurant focuses on hyper-local ingredient sourcing, with most of the food coming from within 100 kilometers of the restaurant, and though many of its flavors skew Canadian, Navarrete's Columbian heritage makes itself apparent in many of the dishes. The newest addition to the Momofuku family adds even more variety to the restaurant group's offerings. Aside from writing four books, Chang has also delved into the food media. He launched the phenomenally successful cult magazine Lucky Peach, has made two programmes for Netflix “Mind of a Chef” and “Ugly Delicious” and, most recently, started his own podcast.