The most important thing about David is that restlessness, the willingness to throw it all overboard and start again, the drive to always do better, that there’s a palpable, actual dynamism to his places, which is rarer than rare.
Just last night, I finished reading Medium Raw by the late Anthony Bourdain. It contains a collection of essays by the former chef and television personality, and you can really “hear” his voice on the printed page. This is Tony, through and through and through.
The sections where he discusses his drug addiction, depression, and near attempts at driving off a cliff into the great beyond are particularly haunting to read today. The book itself covers a broad range of subject matter, from his opinion on Food Network “stars” to what it’s like indulging in a five-hour tasting menu as a “jaded foodie.”
And then there’s this one chapter that he dedicates to David Chang, the New York chef best known for such restaurants a Momofuku Noodle Bar, Momofuku Ko, and Momofuku Ssam Bar. Anthony Bourdain states in the book that David Chang is the most important chef in America right now. He’s also quick to point out that Chang is not the best or the most talented chef though.
Editor and writer Peter Meehan is good friends with David Chang, having coauthored a cookbook together. Meehan hated Momofuku Noodle Bar at one point and then he found himself going back every week. The two, from what I hear, had a falling out a few years ago, but they’ve since reconciled with Meehan co-producing and co-starring in the Ugly Delicious Netflix series with Chang.
Going back to Medium Raw, in a discussion that Peter Meehan had with Anthony Bourdain about David Chang (try saying that three times fast), Meehan points out Chang’s “restlessness” and how that has always been the driving force of Chang’s meteoric rise to fame. Sure, everyone seems to be waiting for David Chang to crash and burn, including Chang himself, but that hasn’t happened just yet. Maybe it’s because Chang is always willing (and anxious) to pivot and try new things.
Maybe that’s why Anthony Bourdain felt that David Chang was the most important chef in America. Here’s a guy that turned high end dining on its head, and figured out a way for Bourdain to enjoy Asian fusion. That’s something that Bourdain had vehemently despised for years.
What does all of that mean for the rest of us? If you want to push your career forward, if you want to achieve great things, you need to leap far beyond your comfort zone into the great unknown. This “restlessness” may mean that “happiness” will always be just out of reach, but maybe that’s the only way you can ever be the most important (fill in the blank) in America. Or anywhere.
Are you willing to throw it all away and start over?
If you haven’t already read Anthony Bourdain’s Medium Raw, I highly recommend it. I’m working my way through the rest of his books and I’m sure they’re all equally enlightening.