We've always been huge fans of New York chef and restaurateur David Chang: He was Sugar's pick for Best Restaurant Chef of 2008. By fusing innovative flavor combinations and haute kitchen techniques with casual dining, the Momofuku overlord revolutionized the restaurant scene in America.
What's most refreshing about Chang, however, are his irreverent demeanor and unapologetic opinions. Even though I'd interviewed him before, when I heard Chang and his co-author, New York Times writer Peter Meehan, were in town promoting their new bible, the Momofuku Cookbook, I couldn't resist chatting with them. His two cents on culinary trends, TV, and Top Chef Masters, after the jump.
YumSugar: After your recent comment about San Francisco ruffled so many feathers, will you be censoring more of what you say?
David Chang: I don't think so. I didn't say anything out of line. It just happened, and it got taken out of context. The people who took it the wrong way — I can't control that. I wasn't even drunk when I said it!
YS: On that note, what is the most overrated restaurant in San Francisco?
Peter Meehan: Maybe Taylor's Automatic Refresher?
DC: I don't know, but Taylor's Automatic Refresher is definitely not as good as In-N-Out. I've had their patty melt, and it could be better.
YS: Is In-N-Out overrated?
DC and PM: [In unison] No!
YS: What food trends are you over?
DC: I'm over being over tuna. Bring tuna back while we have it. I'm over Yelpers, and the term "molecular gastronomy." It should just be called food. And I'm tired of people thinking progressive cuisine has to be a f***ing science factory.
PM: When you're making bread, it's chemistry as much as hydrocolloids are. [Molecular gastronomy is] just another part of cooking. Why are you drawing the line at that place?
YS: What's going to be big in 2010?
DC: There'll be more burgers, steakhouses, meatloaf, more comfort food, more boring.
PM: 2010 is the year for a step back.
YS: David, will we ever see you on Top Chef Masters?
DC: I will never do Top Chef Masters. The only way I'll do TV is if we pursue the truth and be honest about it. It has to be educational, not self serving, and if it is self-serving at all, it should give awareness to what other chefs are doing. The concept of a TV show is something I don't necessarily feel comfortable with. Public persona, it's a weird thing.
YS: Then what does the future hold for you?
DC: I don't know. I'd like to take some time off, a sabbatical. We've turned down several projects this year, because it'd just be too much. If we open up anything, it might be a Milk Bar here and there.
YS: What quality institutions will you be visiting while you're in San Francisco?
DC: I'd love to check out Commis and the new Quince. We're going to try to make it to Chez Panisse. And we have to make a stop at In-N-Out while we're here.