David Chang has become the leader of a sort of
culinary cult in New York. I remember going in to
Bar in the off hours after a long day of training at the French
Culinary Institute. I'd been thinking of his perfectly velvety
smooth pork buns all day.
I would feast on his now overtly-famous pork belly bites of
goodness, wishing I could afford to buy another plateful for the
day. At the FCI, all the chefs knew who he was-- this odd, often
introverted character who had, in a few years time, made it to the
top ranks of the culinary world.
So you can imagine how excited I was to attend his only Canadian
book launch for his much-anticipated first cookbook, Momofuku.
I had been waiting for the book to come out for a while. I was
scared the book wouldn't meet my expectations (way too high), that
the recipes might be dumbed down and with it the beauty of the
Chang cuisine lost. Boy was I wrong.
As Chang explained, his cookbook is more of a
culinary documentary of the journey that led him to where he is now
- he comes off as neurotically insecure, the text riddled with PG13
language- but all in the most charming of ways. That Chang takes
his food seriously would be an understatement. His borderline
unhealthy obsession with making ramen noodles is just the beginning
of the story that ends with Chang making it to the top of the
Chang has been trying to move away from any simplistic labels
that would define his food and when asked if his food could be
characterized as "fusion," I could almost feel him shiver. Fusion
doesn't even begin to describe the food that comes out of the Chang
kitchens. Fusion is a reductionist term that tries to place food
into categories when the Momofuku ventures have always tried to
step out of the often conservative definitions of great food.
The Momofuku recipes are so rich because they are so
culinary diverse, a fusion of world cuisines, if anything. From
southern-inspired grits, to perfect Japanese ramen noodles, to
using the French technique of compound butter to the all-American
apple pie - make that fried apple pie with miso butterscotch -
there's not a food mood this book can't satisfy.
Peter Meehan, co-author of the book, said it best: "It's
probably more difficult to shop for the ingredients in the cookbook
than it is to make the recipes in it.", and I agree. For those who
are not used to stocking up their pantry with authentic Asian
ingredients, that might be the biggest challenge.
The boldness and often complex flavour profiles of the
Momofuku recipes are why this cookbook is so interesting.
But it's not just a book of recipes: it's an open door into the
crazy world of David Chang and his friends, and his constant search
for the most flavorful food. It's like getting into Chang's
overly-perfectionist head, thinking he's just a little crazy but in
the end respecting the food that comes out of his kitchens that
Jennifer Bartoli is food writer
and food photographer currently based in Montreal.
GIVEAWAY: We have two copies of the
much-anticipated cookbook from David Chang, Momofuku, courtesy of
Random House of Canada. This an amazing cookbook and definitely on
my wish list. Email me at blog(@)foodtv(.)ca with
Momofuku in the subject line the answer to this
question: What city hosted David Chang's only Canadian book launch?
Favourite Cookbooks: Gift Ideas
Posted: Wed, Dec 16 2009
by Guest Blogger