For the newest chapter of our blog series, chefs you want to work with, we are going to be looking at the enigmatic bad-boy, Chef David Chang!
Korean American Chang is known for being the founder and brain behind The Momofuku Group, which quickly rose to fame after he opened his first restaurant in 2004. Within the Momofuku group includes his restaurants - the boutique Momofuku Ko, Momofuku noodle bar and the Los Angeles’ special Majordomo.
Despite his father being in the restaurant business for over 30 years, Chang’s culinary career began late and unconventionally as he initially studied Religion at Trinity College in Connecticut. After graduating, he moved to Japan where he took an English teaching job, before having a brief spell working in finance. If you know Chang, then it is no surprise that he was unhappy and frustrated with the office life, ready to embark on his next journey!
Against his father’s guidance, he enrolled in a French Culinary school at the age of 22 with the hopes of becoming a chef and whilst studying abroad in London he discovered one of his lasting influences - Wagamama’s! Becoming obsessed with their ramen, he would often think on how he could improve their recipes by using his oriental roots and his time binging on ramen in Japan.
After graduating culinary school, he secured a line cook position at Jean Georges’ posh Mercer Kitchen in New York City. After a few years of working at some of Manhattan’s finest restaurants followed by another trip to Japan driven by his love for noodles, his father was finally convinced of his potential. Him and his friends pooled together an approximate figure of $130,000 to invest in Chang’s vision and in 2004 came the first Momofuku.
David’s popularity took off immediately as he worked night and day tirelessly for the first 3 years after opening. Describing that time as “life or death”, he felt he had to give absolutely everything to Momofuku driven by his fear of failure and to repay the faith placed in him by his investors. Considering the infamous statistic that around 60% of restaurants fail in the first year of opening, the fact that Momofuku skyrocketed to fame in the competitive Manhattan is an incredible feat.
Since then, he has built an empire, expanding Momofuku to over 10 restaurants across North America and opening 16 branches of Milk Bar alongside partner and chef Christina Tosi. His most impressive restaurant - the three story building in Toronto which has a different Momofuku restaurant on each floor. Great for branding, and a unique concept, Chang also rotates the restaurants on each floor, to keep customers refreshed.
His success has no bounds as he has received multiple Michelin stars, James Beard awards and has even appeared on Time’s magazine covers. Some of his most notable accomplishments include GQ Chef of the Year (2007), Time 100 Most Influential People (2010) and 4 James Beard Awards including Outstanding Chef (2013). Not to mention his Netflix show “Ugly Delicious” received a perfect 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes - the trusted TV and movie platform for critics. This put Chang alongside an illustrious line of chefs such as Gordon Ramsey, Martha Stewart and Guy Fieri who have all replicated their kitchen successes into TV fame and in doing so became household names. His Netflix specials somewhat revolutionized modern-day food TV, instead of opting for a more traditional travelogue, he decided to dive into the sociocultural origins of food. With celebrities like Seth Rogen appearing on his special “Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner”, and Chang himself appearing on “The Tonight Show” with Jimmy Fallon, he has changed what it means to be a celebrity chef.
Throughout his career, Chang has created countless recipes innovating food as we know it, with some of the most memorable dishes including the revolutionary steamed Pork buns, his succulent whole plate short rib, and the innovative mouth-watering Korean fried chicken!
If you want to jump start your career within the world-known Momofuku group then send us your CV and apply now!