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Jul 23, 2008 07:45 AM

David Chang on Charlie Rose last night

Did anybody else catch it? I thought it was pretty fascinating. In some ways, I love the guy -- his passion, making sure his employees get health care, bringing "fine dining" to the casual level, his modesty. In other ways, I can't stand him -- his ego, his brattiness, his domineering qualities. But I understand him -- probably because I'm also an American raised in a Korean household (though I believe he was technically born in Korea). He's a very complex character, and the interview was very enjoyable to watch.

My favorite line of the evening was:

CR: What do you think about vegetarians?
DC: Ummmm... I respect them.
CR: No you don't.
DC: I respect them, but just not at our restaurant.

If you missed it, you can see it in its entirety by clicking this link:

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  1. this is great! thanks.

    you don't know of anywhere i can watch more extended interviews with chefs or fascinating food personalities, do you? i love this sort of stuff.

    9 Replies
    1. re: beelzebozo

      Well, not exactly extended interviews, but you may like After Hours with Daniel Boulud if you're not aware of it already. You can watch entire episodes on hulu.

      1. re: Miss Needle

        very cool stuff. miss needle is my new favorite person.

        regarding chang, i'm not familiar with his public persona outside what i see hear, and he seems pretty amiable. does he act like a jerk quite a bit publicly?

        1. re: beelzebozo

          I'm glad that you enjoyed them!

          I personally don't know Chang. I've seen him a few times at his restaurants in the past, but have never talked to him. As he said in the interview, he doesn't really like it when people approach him, and I can definitely understand that. He's there to work and not socialize. I don't think I'd appreciate people chatting me up while I was trying to do my job either.

          Chang definitely seems amiable on camera, and I'd probably like him in person -- but only to an extent. I've heard he's got quite a temper and explodes quite often, though I haven't seen it. I don't do very well with those type of people. I can understand how some people may not see "domineering" based on this interview. But I think I view him in a different light than most people because of my background. And even though I don't personally know him, I do understand where he's coming from. I understand his drive, his behavior, his ego, his insecurity, his maniacal nature, his desire to be #1 -- because I come from a similar background to him. We had very similar parents.

          I do respect his willingness to admit to his faults and flaws -- not all guys with that much pride can do that. I hope David Chang is not reading this, but I have to say that he would probably make a difficult husband. He really needs to find a saint for a wife.

          1. re: Miss Needle

            Thanks to Miss Needle from me as well. Charlie Rose can coax interesting conversations out of people the rest of us normally wouldn't see. I appreciate your heads-up to the links both to CR's David Chang interview and where I can find Boulud on the internet. I had heard of Boulud's After Hours show but don't get it on PBS here. Looks like there is a wealth of archival video . . . Looking forward to it.

            1. re: Miss Needle

              Per the last interview I read on him, he has a Korean gfriend whom he pretty much said was a saint for putting up with him. Basically every profile I've seen of him leads me to think that this is a highly stressed perfectionist who readily admits to losing his temper but who probably comes down harder on himself than anyone. "Tortured" would be a good word to describe him. I like what he's doing and think his restaurants range from good to very good, but man, *I* get stressed out everytime I read an interview on him!

              1. re: gloriousfood

                Ha! Tortured is a perfect term! I've been smart enough to stay away from those types of guys, but my girlfriend's a bit of a masochist. She always loves a challenge. Too bad he's got somebody -- she'd really love him! : )

                I found this on seriouseats.


                I found it hysterical that instead of telling his girlfriend that he liked her or loved her, he said that he just didn't hate her.

                1. re: Miss Needle

                  Just saw the entire interview. Tortured and a little bit inconsistent. The inconsistency is actually consistent with Asian culture. You want to be the best but you don't want to say you are, but it's perfectly okay if someone else proclaims you to be the best, but even so you have to remain humble.

                  1. re: Ericandblueboy

                    I agree, he seems driven by some fierce internal demons, but his mix of low brow modesty and high brow perfectionism has culminated in culinary dynamite. He seems very intelligent and matter of fact when it comes to the food, and that comes across in his approach, make it the best even if its in a humble setting. I think most chefs I've read about tend to be Type A personalities, and it's a very stressful industry. Aside from Asian modesty, I think on some level he does seem genuinely baffled and surprised that people find his version of culinary editing and 'fusion' (even if he hates the term) so appealing, and Momofuku Ssam Bar's current approach seemed like a serendipitous accident. But his perfectionism and competitive drive certainly made his success possible. He's probably more stressed out than ever now that he's on the map.

            2. re: beelzebozo

              He's a nice enough guy if you see him at his restaurants. He was very friendly and chatty when I spoke to him during my dinner at Momofuku Ko. He's does readily admit though that his is an ass in the kitchen.

        2. When did he stop playing tennis and become a chef?

          5 Replies
            1. re: Ericandblueboy

              Who is actually going into the tennis hall of fame this year.

              1. re: Ericandblueboy

                Ha. DH wasn't watching the interview but listening to it as he was working. He also thought the same thing!

              2. re: Chinon00

                David Chang was a high level golfer until his late teens. He said he gave it up because he didn't think he could be really great.

                1. re: KTinNYC

                  Yeah it's interesting because it sounds like he entered cooking as almost a kind of escape from his prior competitive world (i.e. golf), but it ended up giving him more public 'greatness' in the end.