Chef David Chang

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This is kick ASS news I'm Ben Mathis life is full all of choices and Belkin offers a variety of tech solutions that keep you connected to your world so you never miss a beat remember when companies used to make products that actually sent off at checkout if you're a business owner like me you know that managing sales tax is a complex and time consuming process it's easy books a podcast and two series on net flicks ugly delicious which debuted earlier this year and his latest breakfast lunch and dinner available on Netflix now legendary meltdowns and the open kitchen at Momofuku but diners will always forgive perfectionism if it's in the pursuit of something delicious and made over with its native son Seth Rogan for episode one of breakfast lunch and dinner visiting Marrakech with model Chrissy Teigen and why the best food in Morocco is he says when he was a kid he originally wanted to be Tiger Woods not Wolfgang puck and he eventually got into cooking because he hated his job in finance bona fide culinary genius today David Chang is only mellowed slightly but such is the responsibility when you grow from one restaurant so tiny that chef who rebelled against traditional ideas about what constitutes fine dining ruffled more than a few feathers with his no reservations and no vegetarians policy and you to spend countless hours just trying to keep up with tax compliance instead of working on growing improving your business and at the end of the day you still might screw up your taxes is kick evola tax compliance done right and now on with the show tres and wireless charging docks to keep your smartphone ready to go at any time better performance better durability better quality better with Belkin down shaped his success and why he still worries that his success could all go up in smoke and speaking of smoke dave talks about smoking weed and Turing Vancouver recalls learning his art in some of the best kitchens in New York and Tokyo then rebelling against New York's fine dining establishment how struggling to get Momofuku off the ground the GO-TO Belkin dot com and use Promo Code kick ass at checkout for thirty percent discount that's Belkin dot com and Promo Code kick ass for thirty x beginning October twenty third today David Chang joins me on the show to discuss his latest TV series and the liberating feeling of eating exploring with friends aroma desk chair all over him again and again and to this day I have never had to replace a single belkin product checkout belkins cable screen protector earn filing avalanche software seamlessly integrates with your accounting e commerce and point of sale systems so it couldn't be easier and they have experts in are disrupting the restaurant industry and what that means for chefs coming up with David Chang in just a moment this and get audited or find thankfully there's avalanche era avalanche simplifies sales tax with real time tax rate calculations and automatic return fifteen countries around the world to help as you grow learn more at aval era that's a V. A. L. A. R. A. dot com slash. I'm Ben Mathis Welcome to kick ASS news when David Chang I stormed onto the New York restaurant scene in two thousand four the upstart and in the restaurants he talks about his love hate relationship with the California food seen customers who instagram their food how delivery APPS and other food tax winning chef and founder of momofuku which now includes over a dozen restaurants around the world he's the author of the bestselling Cookbook Momofuku host of the popular. He couldn't put backs on the chairs because patrons wouldn't be able to reach the restroom to a food entertainment empire that now encompasses fourteen restaurants bestselling cooked. Yeah with a second Netflix series called breakfast lunch and dinner Bill de Follows Jang as he travels around the world accompanied by some of his celebrity friends like Seth Rogan Chris the delicious podcast and the host of ugly delicious on Net flicks and eight part documentary series about foods we love and the stories that shape them now he's Teigen lean away th and Kate McKinnon available on Netflix starting October twenty third and today David Chang join me on the podcast David welcome it's a real honor to be Sir David Chang is a James Beard award in the country okay the Vietnamese Indian yeah you also have how should I are you not seeing anywhere else and that's an amazing thing and I'm not even talking about like the specific like if you just want to food that's as good as that's very good for business but particularly for restaurants there's low there's no state income tax there's say a city council that allows people to build whatever they want okay okay very little little regulation and the lack of regulation and be able to do what you want I mean that's the opposite of your standard of living is higher you know it's it's it's it's a pretty good place to I- predestined profession. Yeah and I burned out at the ripe age of like thirteen yeah pretty good I thought I was pretty good but maybe the best in America maybe outside of Orange County who knows it's definitely in conversation and Houston is always surprising cancelled game I would do it not because I liked doing it so I could like get better at something I disliked because of the different ethnic groups it's one of the most diverse on paper I think the most diverse population in terms of immigrants you say that like it's one of your favorite food towns in the world why is that absolutely because Houston there's no place quite like it Europe I think pretty early on I didn't really have an aptitude to do well in school okay so I bouncy of the Gulf of Mexico you have great seafood you have also great farms and in animals you have ultimately I think one of the reasons I burned out besides not loving it is I wasn't as good as I thought it was yeah do you still play at all I've played three times since thank you for having me I'm really interested in your fascination with Houston because I am originally from Houston I never thought of it as having a huge food scene but apparently a lot of colleges around you it's like okay you have everything okay and that's it just seems like it's a perfect yeah it's a it's a hobby I'm ultracompetitive and dry to again that's not a sport I love but because so much of it is kids would never work in it so the irony of getting into it you know isn't lost on me the Gulf was in that same boat weirdly enough And I I think I had I would say some kind of existential crisis the twenty one twenty two I didn't want to do something and be mediocre at it and I worked in the financial services industry and Orm to create a culinary environment that is truly unique in American can you see mergers of cuisines happening there is a profession and you know after graduating college I taught English for a little bit I lived in Jackson Hole I did all these things that didn't make it's funny your parents Kinda head to businesses they owned restaurants and they owned a golf warehouse and at least initially you started off leaning more toward the latter open up a restaurant and now are you going to open a restaurant there or what have one right now we don't but you never know yeah I genuinely love Houston it's I mentioned my dad really discouraged from cooking and you were just rebelling against your parents is that it yeah I think so but but not really like I didn't understand huma sense mainly because I couldn't get a job in ninety nine that's when everyone was working at tube socks dot com or some dot com or trying to be some banker investing or whatever what's so cost prohibitive you get very interesting results yet I mean compared to New York seem like a dream for a chef to kind of more or less had an idea that that would be a fun thing to do almost as a hobby or to be a good cook never thinking about it literally doing like what working hard for nothing I mean it didn't make any there was no intrinsic reward yeah about I I it was the beginning of food network television I grew up watching PBS shows great chefs of the West the Tiger Woods when you were my father wanted me to be okay he was that really like tiger woods way ahead of the curve in terms of Asian parents eighteen dinner you say that you feel more at home Japan than you do in Korea even why is that what is it about Japan that speaks to you know I tried to get their kids to play Golf yeah the dad works entire life to get out of the restaurant business and to make sure is two thousand and three okay it's a huge waste of time can we just be honest I don't think reading time and it's it's having Korean friends and not having Korean friends I was able to have a diverse sort of set of friends and I never quite and how I lived in what I did and where I worked I think a lot of it just made sense to me and I still don't know how or why but to what's developing and percolating there and because of that ability for people to try something new because it's got all the sports teams you want for sure you know they say Austin's weird I think Houston is way weird well I'm interested in how you came to cooking because and I couldn't get any of those jobs so Ernie as people always asking why did you get into cooking well a lot of people don't even cooking because they couldn't get any other jobs and I was Japanese at a young age basically grew up in Japan I mean that's the best way to explain this and he didn't like Korean food she didn't like Kimchi Like helping a company that worked with European companies to list on the New York Stock Exchange and it was the closest thing I could get I was a gopher and I did had Internet painewebber and wealth private wealth management and after teaching three months in Japan I came back to get a job doing Korea as a country I have a strange relationship because growing up in northern Virginia I I was shocked at as they call me Yopal which is translates to foreign born and that's not a he kind comment I saw that place that I was always excited to go to really wasn't embracing of me and embrace cream culture I was always like sort of in between and when I went to create in college and a summer abroad program so the irony is I get the Japan total isolation really I got to see a side of Japan that I don't know if a lot of people get to see that is a warped warped way sure so then what was it that initially got you into cooking again from America right korean-american kids and this is a very common program that I would find some more like minded individuals and that wasn't the case either I definitely didn't want to do what I was doing well yeah now you spend quite a few years working in different kitchens in New York and also in Japan and in fact I think in breakfast a lot of the well-to-do intelligent educated men and women of Korea when they're at a certain age talked to basically for many years as the colonized by Japan and you know there's there's a lot of history shouldn't necessarily get into you right now but I was like this is not for me and I had to take the leap of faith to try to do something new and I did it no of cooking was going to be my calling all I knew was I one of the reasons why for sure that Japan more at home my grandfather on my mom's side and really was instrumental figure in my life growing up as a toddler nothing and I just saw pretty quickly that this is the life for a lot of people in while might be enriching to them sitting at a desk that's that's a loaded comment for a lot of people if especially if you're Korean or Japanese you know Koreans have historically been seen as a second class citizen to Japanese called all these fancy restaurants in New York and not knowing enough to know what's what not possible I went to Japan to study noodles to learn Rahman it was something that Listrik with my expectations and knowing that however good I was at cooking there was probably Lisa dozen people ahead of me and at that time to open up a restaurant and that's one nostalgic reason and there's a few others but yeah it's a it's a strange thing to go to Japan if feel like it's a little bit more each stuff and I just always remember that like while grandpas different yeah and I think for whatever reason when I got to it was if you told someone in nineteen eighty nine that you love food in this is before the word foodie really even existed you were seen as a snob and it was elitist Really yes with a lot of Korean students that were trying to our bite is like a part time job this I'm trying to like edit out some stuff in my head because this Dan Junkie he didn't like the staples that everyone else in my mom's family or my Dad's side loved and we would go out and city where right in two thousand yeah like boulay down yeah and it's almost like it's the only kind of restaurant that could afford do and now I wonder when you came back from Japan and you open Momofuku Noodle House you're trying to transport this idea of the Asian Noodle House to New York's I hate like king and cheaply and how was that possible and this is before guidebooks I mean yeah there was lonely planet and stuff like that but city did he won at that point was that fifteen years ago have a reference for what a noodle house was in New York no not really and having worked at world and not the world but particularly in Asia and the thing that I was always amazed at when I lived in Japan I actually lived in a homeless shelter with a lot of Burger they're eating delicious complex foods so when I times not Sushi Sushi in Japan a lot of times it's going to be pretty expensive the rabbit hole is a very deep and diverse and we just get an American distillation of what actually is in terms of the perspective particularly then Japanese food we'd get on a bus in and we'd take the bus around a lot of different weekends I remember as a kid and he would take me and he would teach me how the was a right that everybody wants to have and to eat well affordably and a city as expensive as Japan I mean station could hours anyway I I've saw something that I didn't see while I lived in America that eating well uh and he was a well to do Korean person but was really Japanese because he was educated in Japan because he they the things were happening in my life some personal issues family issues and also I I had a hard time adjusting back to America I lived in America I lived in Japan they didn't really cover restaurants in the infinite maze of the culinary landscape that is Japan and I just got lost and I because I could never stopped spots and can travel China a little bit and just seeing that like weight people eat really well for them and they don't just is insane as it sounds is is true the only way you're going to get your own restaurant and that'd be a fancy fine dining restaurant which was truly the only kind of restaurant listen there there's a there's certainly a easy way to like see that but I was fortunate enough to be able to travel based in New York and he seems like it's even more so these days it seems like the more and more rents go up one day you're only going to have daniels and boo but it wasn't just the real estate in Atlantic City because they actually had noodle bars right and they get a lot of Asian customer's rat so I went anywhere and I just went down this rabbit hole go around go move back to Japan to cook for about ten months and I didn't expect to get culture shock coming back and one of the things for me going back even though I'm not there's so many other types of cuisine Japanese food available there's so like not just Japanese food all hall foods really particularly in Asia Dan as four and as it was and it's very foreign still to me however hard it was I just made more sense Elise Culinary speaking wise afford anything expensive I just saw it out things one of the things I really ate a Lotta was Robin and compiled a list and I went to all the uh even in New York but like it was a slow process to get you so I would be very very behind on the leaderboard of getting that tap is never going to be better than them in that regard because the only way you're going to get a restaurant is some wealthy patron said Hey Daniel Balloon I have a restaurant I want to open unease I could blend in okay like I'm not aware of my skin color and then to come back and all the manners and I I just was like I got to figure out how to open up a place and that's how noodle bar opened up and idea having Rahman shop then did not exist there was one the thing that happens the people start to live their life when they get diagnosed with cancer I saw us as we operated as a terminally ill patient well because it was like a calling to me and and opened up in two thousand four without any idea what I was doing and we served on the shoulder okay so and also cooking food that was while technically beautiful it was not meaningful to me because what I really wanted was to make so I I I came back to America and I worked for balloon in Asia Carmelina cafe balloon which at the time I thought was the best restaurant and exist and to the point where I worked at any place that served noodle soup on the eastern seaboard I even worked in some casinos Oh yeah teams are different even how they season food is much more subtle and to come back to New York I it took me a long time to get reacclimated up in Pittsburgh do you have someone in mind that I could you could send me up with and that's literally how you will get your own restaurant but not New York would be different which is why I look back at it and it's it's I I sometimes oftentimes think about that Coen brothers movie were the first few months and then I guess at a certain point you come to this realization that okay yes we can do great noodles but we can also do all kinds of other things do whatever tastes good uh-huh and I think that also added to the fact that I was in a kitchen where some very terrific chefs that have done great things and I think I was right to get out because I was Chinese versus chinese-american. Yeah but I think a little bit more hostile just I thought even with the kids all over he's still struggling with cancer I just was I this is this is how we looked at it we're going to be open to anything and everything and we're gonNA throw out what's to cheapen the the the the the the metaphor analogy cancer but having had seen cancer in my family and and the strange sick things that happen that are just comical all turned out for the better somehow and I never put too much cool what we think we have to do we're GONNA do whatever works and as painful as that whole moment was we found her identity through that like Louis Davis where the opposite of Loon Davis was basically Bob Dylan and I'm not comparing myself to that that's not what I'm trying to say I often compare myself was the Aha moment I mean our home is you're going out of business really okay yeah yeah that's a good motivator and and and I I never and for people that that that like me like I wanted to eat the food that I want to eat and not do this really beautiful stuff for Upper East siders asked and didn't need to be replaced every year or two that's Belkin I've been using Belkin chargers and cables for years I beat him up I drop them a twist them much credit and we've been in the right place at the right time and we've definitely worked our butts off yeah but had we had a more traditional that I wanted to own a lot of my peers we're going to Europe and again a lot of this came from golf on a a very competitive person always checking the scoreboard and very real chefs when you're hiring apparently you look for chefs who have as you put it just barely enough talent why because if you are and the only option is to try everything yeah and to have the will and the grit and determination not to to go out of business and at the time my mom and and what I'm looking for is really three things but one is are they harder on themselves than anyone else when they make mistakes and I wish it was any other way yeah it's interesting what you said about how you don't put much stock in skill because I've heard you say that really good cooks never become great go for a year and kind of wait to find your way or maybe you'd stayed at per se or Daniel and kind of tried to work your way up through the fine dining system no absolutely everything often investors and a comfort level of financing. I I'm kind of person that doesn't work well with the net okay you know that it's momofuku noodle Barmen and should have gone on a business almost times yeah yeah I've heard you talk about what a struggle it wasn't the New York City called rewrite Kenneth still there but in terms of Rahmen Ulama saw at at Japanese restaurants and maybe it was with Oudin but it didn't really like emphasis on skill mine very lucky that we're here we've had some great people I've gotten way too Louis Davis because it's like he if you made a right turn and said Oh left turn things would've been in in right when I look about at that time all of these really dark dark yeah I mean do you think your life would have ended up in a much different place if you had had some huge roster of investors backing you that you could I need to light a fire under your ass I need to know that like there's nothing that's GonNa save me and and I had to really unfortunately that gets the best out in the and are they gonna go to bed at night not being able to sleep because they could have done a better job and to like do they have like this idea of total terminate a cook you're GonNa get better it's not a skill set that it's not like I'm asking people to figure out some quantum mechanic immersion in it that they do that to me sort of translators love of the business it's like they can't get enough of it that they have to do it and it's this idea that blonde right right this is craft and through repetition regardless of your skill level hard work in this industry is the great equalizer Jellison me I actually think the more common approach to the more realistic approach and loving your job is you love it fifty one percent versus forty nine percent loving something I think has been a manipulated by marketing. Somehow because it's like if you love something particularly the job you gotta wake up every day with a smile thing in this is the best in everyone's on the same spectrum going after the same gum yeah I loved episode one because you go to Vancouver with its favorite son Seth Rogan and because Seth Rogan and because it's Vancouver which has always had a fairly tolerant attitude dull mind altering substances you guys smoke a lot of weed or at least it looks luncheon dinner while it is essentially a friends traveling eating having fun I do think that they're still a sense of discovery let them all the time and you have to be comfortable in failing you have to be completely like surrender to the idea failing and failing not being I want to know to someone have the kind of integrity that right when they can make shortcut and no one's going to know Are they to go traveling with friends what did you want to do with breakfast lunch and dinner that you couldn't do with ugly delicious well ugly delicious is in someone holds and they realized that they were wrong yeah and that could be me or someone else in the show and I think for breakfast and that could be again me or or or my friend or you know the city it just to me while two different things I knew that filming that episode was going to contain it because it is legal in Vancouver and seth is bad thing yeah well you've got so much on your plate these days you have your show ugly delicious on Netflix and now you have breakfast lunch and dinner I really interesting because it's almost like which is hard to say to a chef you know you have to take your ego out of it and you have to have that mentality of wanting to be a person all of the different origins of one particular food and how is influenced by different cultures that you didn't even know about and I love Bill de just because it's just fun the people but the only way you can really like motivate people is the carrot of personal growth yes that's enjoyed ugly delicious because it was so interesting how you explore the cultural and sociological aspects of a specific food and do this very deep dive and all and even if they do something right no one's gonNA congratulate them are they still going to try to do it the harder way only reward and cooking which is why I think it's so hard to it's owned thing and it's I mean it's a labor of love because a lot of work from a lot of different people goes into it but we really wanted to figure out how to the manager of people in the Culinary Force which is why I don't think chefs and restaurant managers get enough credit unfortunately I hopefully things change in terms of how we can view culture in food and and not to go too deep into it it just it's you know it's exploring those are the qualities like usually family meal and those are the three things I really look for is is is I'm not trying to judge a person at their best moments do you smoke weed or is it just that seth's we'd is particularly I don't really smoke weed college but he's just a just a wonderful guy he's a nice it can be as grounded as can be and Vancouver couldn't ask for a better ambassador of that city than Steph he chur in ways that hopefully people haven't seen and it's a sense of discovery and in that sense discovery could also be a held a genuinely loves it and I'm always shocked at how down to Earth he is and I think he's a really a reflection of the personality of that city is so many good people and yeah we there was there was a marijuana smoked a lot of it and I it was only having one puff okay so but it was powerful stuff is powerful stuff yeah I was nervous about that whole day yeah now I've When he was in high school in the population was sixty percent Asian what is the appeal of Vancouver to Chinese emigrants I'm not sure we SORTA covered it when we're at the Hong Kong Barbecue Master and I I don't know why Chinese immigrant patterns would have a play out in Vancouver for whatever reason I don't know the answer became sort of the one of the central hubs yeah and that's who is in in service of someone else and trying to make someone happy and yourself do at riot there's a right way and there's a wrong and there was a high standards and I I heard that there's a big Chinese population in Vancouver and it Kinda comes through on this show you guys go to a lot of great Asian restaurants there and I said something like over of Hong Kong to back to China and I think ninety seven and a how that had serious repercussions for how this is the natural abundance of British Columbia the seafood there it's a really remarkable city yeah I mean Vancouver Nick the hard thing about a show like this is you touch upon topics you would love to go deeper in and one of those would be the the handle lament that you should be spending all of your time in the kitchen but yet all of this other stuff that you're doing takes you away from that if you've got this huge food and entertainment people would say oh it rains too much it's rains for like five minutes a day yeah it's an amazing place and I think it's in that episode where you actually how I tend not to fink about whatever's happened in the past I tend to only think about the negative and you know those that are close to me no think I'm still just trying to figure it out like everyone else I still have the same insecurities had as a teenager yeah and all the success is something that I don't really believe too much empire that you run with Netflix shows and podcast and books and all that do you sort of feel like you're kind of a victim of your own success at this point I don't think I'm a victim love really yeah I think you just evaporate in a day or something yes pretty paranoid gentlemen to begin with but yeah I wanNA be wrong and with all the things that are happening I think it can happen because we have a good team and I know that sounds great this many restaurants at the level that you're operating them and ensure quality control and ensure that every diner gets the kind of experience that you originally intended unless you I'm a pretty pessimistic person and I always joke that I'm really an optimist that a pessimist is the best version of optimism because I want to be wrong eight and sort of like a canned response but but you have to we have I mean you cannot op all these people are saying Hey Chinaman Hey Jackie Chan and it's almost like they're weirdly oblivious to the to the overt racism there but ask you know in a variety of roles but I don't oversee the day to day anymore I I'm there I still I work a tremendous amount and one of the reasons I guess I worked I think tourism is I think it's been affected by some form of tourism or several hundred years right and and I didn't get a chance to visit Casa Blanca or any of the other cities in Morocco but you're cold place you wouldn't think that would be a natural place I'd argue some of the best food Chinese food particularly in the world in the world is because of the resource it's just that people always say the best food is in someone's home and we were very fortunate enough to have Tariq and his family his wife and his daughter allow us to it's a weird place because Morocco it's not like its neighbors in the sense that it's way more culturally tolerant than a lot of North Africa and the Middle East technology and I found it to be stifling a bit that every restaurant particularly then it really seemed like every restaurant it just literally San Francisco Bay area and what got taken out is a first time I ever got in public trouble yeah and anymore but it certainly keeps me from doing stupid things all an episode two of Bill De you'll get the wonderful privilege of going to America us as hard as I do because it is an addiction I am addicted to work there's no question about your work on it's one of the few addictions that's like totally accepted just so people don't send me hate mail I I listened to as a person I try to celebrate all things that are tolerance that are hard for all things new culturally from politics to sexuality to music to drugs to food much younger fellow was San Francisco and the Bay area at large embraces the new and it's been sort of the van and San Francisco celebrates diversity and maybe that was a true in every facet except food food scene here I'm GonNa beat you up with this quote she said they don't manipulate food they just put figs on a plate now you ever restaurant here major Domo your a little bit better because I was definitely young and dumb but I I wasn't trying to denigrate anyone I was simply jealous yeah personally spending a lotta time here have you changed your mind about that was not about Los Angeles that will quote that Tony Bourdain in two thousand nine hundred it's fascinating and that could be applied to California at large and yeah I think that without going deeper into that I understand that have dinner with them and it was a wonderful meal yeah I would love to go back there and it's funny because as you're going through the soup and Marrakech to a food festival we spoke about San Francisco Oh that will okay that was California not specific down to have the produce of California is unbelievable Oh yeah like you know you walk in when a pharmacist have that team right that really believes in your vision to and it's no longer my vision I've stepped down as CEO and the Vision now belongs to Marguerite Mary Scowl and I'm there mental figuring my life all I was trying to suggest could've articulated much better was with the produce that San Francisco has and the East what do you think that is I'm not sure I think a lot of it has to do with the if I had to guess it'd be the history and the and the trade yeah it was pretty much like seven months outta the year and the sweetness of the strawberries and the citrus and not just the the with Chrissy Teigen I love Eric Cash I think that was your first time I I I love it because it literally like Ladan it's been ten years those places growing up in Houston I kind of have a real taste for the cage and stuff but it's interesting I've noticed that especially La all the good Cajun shrimp boil places diverse and open and I try to be that fail more often than not and what I was just trying to explain coastal California but crabs crab eating and crawfish it's not the sophisticated dining that it has that it should be the best place in the world to eat it's hard to do that when everyone's doing the same and it's this homogenize thing was trying to cook food exactly or the same elk of shape unease and I love waters and she's been very food now speaking of the abundance of the ocean in that episode you go to a Cajun crawfish boil place in La. I think it's called hot and juicy yes I love the for ten years since I was there beautiful beautiful city and it's funny that you chose it because it's not really a restaurant town you say in the show so we're here and you just eat dates like oh yeah there's dates in this country we in California forget that not all of the country has access to avocado law right yeah this is already yeah I'll sleep when I'm debt and and part of that

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