Food Flash

The Rise of David Chang and the Momofuku Empire

Disruption, Agitation, and Innovation have made David Chang the “Wolfgang Puck” of his generation.

From humble beginnings in a small noodle shop in New York City’s East Village David Chang has grown his Momofuko franchise into a restaurant and food service empire employing 700 people in 13 restaurants and 8 “Momofuko” Milk Bars. He serves up fried chicken sandwiches and burgers in his recently launched Fuku chain as well as $250 per person and up dinners in various Momofuko restaurants in prestige locations in the United States and in far flung places like Sydney, Australia.

He is considered a true food and restaurant master of the universe. In fact he is a deity to those who worship at the alter of the church of foodism.

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Not bad for a guy who less 10 years ago was sleeping on the floor in a cramped NYC east village apartment. How did this come to be? The short answers is: guts, grit, genius, luck and a little help from his friends.

Back in the days when Momofuku was just a simple ramen bar, Chang was able to get the attention of some very prominent NY foodies such as Mario Batali, then Food and Wine writer Pete Wells, and others to hone in on his passion for adding the flavors and techniques of his Korean American heritage to his Ramen concept. Then it was on to Buns, BBQ pork belly, fried chicken sandwiches,

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NOW THAT’S  A FUK’N CHICKEN SAMMICH

shaved foie gras, cereal favored ice creams and a panoply of dishes that comprise the Momofuku trademark. (BTW he is the recipient numerous James Beard Foundation Awards and nominations).

Some of these friends are among the dominant players in the food and restaurant world. A food and restaurant celebrity “mafia” if you will, including restaurant luminaries Mario Batali, Daniel Boulud, Danny Bowien, Will Guidara, Danny Meyer, Alice Waters, and esteemed food journalists Pete Wells, Anthony Bourdain, Kate Krader, Ruth Reichl, Alice Waters and others. (More on this to come).

Not content to rest on his Kim chi infused laurels, Chang is trying to break new ground with just in time food delivery. As brick and mortar restaurants in high rent urban areas are riskier than ever, Chang envisions his inspired menu creations reaching your home or office in 15 minutes. His latest mission is to conquer the world of take out and food delivery food with Ando, a just in time cook and delivery meal service a la Amazon and Uber. He has risked a lot of his own money in fledgling Ando and invested in another called Maple.

A recent takedown from NYT critic Pete Wells, who was not terribly enthused with Momofuko Nishi ( a confluence of Asian and Italian cuisine) and a demotion of Toronto’s  Momofuku Shoto   from the best restaurant in the City  of Toronto, three  years running, to only one of the best will not stop Chang.

 

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