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I wanted to love this book, as I'm a fan of David Chang, his food empire, and even his TV shows. Unfortunately the book is kind of all over the place. First, the obligatory and rather unremarkable childhood memories that don't really connect to what comes later (to be fair, Chang admits as much as he's describing it all). Then, a rather scattered, confusing, conflicting account of what Chang thinks he did right and wrong while setting up Momofuku and the restaurants that came later. Lots of mea culpa musings over his anger issues - at turns apologetic and defensive - but mostly coming across as just excuses for bad behaviour, and after a while a just repetitive. In between all of that, he talks a lot about his struggles with depression and how this impacted his journey. This was interesting to a point, but not that different than so many other accounts of depression and (mild) addiction. As for the writing, it just isn't very good, which I found surprising given that Chang employs a co-writer here (Gabe Ulla), which seems to be the point of that sort of collaboration. All in all, there were some interesting parts, juicy tidbits, thoughtful musings on the industry and an insightful list of chef Dos and Don'ts at the end. And Chang does his sincere best to explain himself to those who care to listen. But this won't stand out as either a powerful memoir or influential food book.
A must read book for any David Chang fan. It was a quick read that I couldn't put down. Pretty fast paced and very interesting. Also up to date with his most recent struggles (2020) which was interesting to read about.
Worth the read! I struggle with mental health issues and found it really inspiring to read about a successful person who also does. I have loved Dave Chang for years and this just made me love him even more.
I first came to know about David Chang when my niece took me to eat at his Momofuku Noodle Bar in NYC's East Village in the early 2000's. I thought of him only in terms of the spare look of the (tiny) restaurant and the delicious Asian-inspired food. Then I accidentally came across The Mind of a Chef on PBS. Chang was the featured chef in season one (and according to his memoir, was the originator of the series). I found him to be an original, innovative, wide-ranging, deep thinker and an excellent, engaging communicator and so have followed his career ever since. His memoir, Eat a Peach, is a chronicle of his life in food as a chef, restauranteur, tv star, podcaster, author, colleague/mentor, but even more so it is a set of brutally honest yet eloquent reflections on his struggle to continuously develop as a human being. Chang doesn't mention Socrates, but I'm sure he believes that the "unexamined life is not worth living." In Eat a Peach, we read that his bipolarism, difficult relationship with his father, and close friendship with Anthony Bourdain (who appeared to live with similar demons and ended his life by committing suicide) seem to drive Chang to question his considerable success with not a small degree of self-flagellation but, thankfully, with a great sense of humor and exceptional generosity towards young chefs as well. Written in a fast-paced conversational style (with the help of Gabe Ulla and Chris Ying), the book addresses the existential question of "Who am I?" Because Chang's life is a remarkable one, the book is a fascinating read.
At first, David Chang's self-deprecating prose seemed like cliche humble bragging. As he wrote of his life and his intertwining journeys with his restaurant empire, mental wellness, race and gender, family, et. al., the writing morphed into sincerity - someone being real in real-time. Chapter 15, entitled "35", might be the best chapter ever written in a memoir. You don't need to be a foodie to read this. Chang shares lessons on leadership, management, parenting, and life in general through his own lens, processed, practiced, and reflected upon. Read this book.