Eat a Peach
In 2004, Momofuku Noodle Bar opened in a tiny, stark space in Manhattan’s East Village. Its young chef-owner, David Chang, worked the line, serving ramen and pork buns to a mix of fellow restaurant cooks and confused diners whose idea of ramen was instant noodles in Styrofoam cups. It would have been impossible to know it at the time—and certainly Chang would have bet against himself—but he, who had failed at almost every endeavor in his life, was about to become one of the most influential chefs of his generation, driven by the question, “What if the underground could become the mainstream?”
Chang grew up the youngest son of a deeply religious Korean American family in Virginia. Graduating college aimless and depressed, he fled the States for Japan, hoping to find some sense of belonging. While teaching English in a backwater town, he experienced the highs of his first full-blown manic episode, and began to think that the cooking and sharing of food could give him both purpose and agency in his life.
Full of grace, candor, grit, and humor, Eat a Peach chronicles Chang’s switchback path. He lays bare his mistakes and wonders about his extraordinary luck as he recounts the improbable series of events that led him to the top of his profession. He wrestles with his lifelong feelings of otherness and inadequacy, explores the mental illness that almost killed him, and finds hope in the shared value of deliciousness. Along the way, Chang gives us a penetrating look at restaurant life, in which he balances his deep love for the kitchen with unflinching honesty about the industry’s history of brutishness and its uncertain future.
I am familiar with the name of David Chang. However I am not that familiar with his culinary career. This is probably one of the best memoirs I have read in a long time. As Chang says, memoirs are really about reminiscing of the past.
What I really enjoyed about this book is the easy going way that it was written. It was not like Chang was trying to impress anyone or hide anything. There was even some cussing. Yet, it felt natural and went with the vibe of the book.
Chang shares his memories growing up, to starting up his first restaurant, dealing with social media bloggers, and everything else in between. This book is not about "food", it is much more. Fans of Mr. Chang will really appreciate this book. Mr. Chang is so down to earth.