David Chang might be a Michelin-starred chef and founder of Momofuku, but even the culinary superstar admits that mistakes occur in his home cooking adventures.
“This summer there was one day where I cut myself twice in the kitchen,” says Chang to Men’s Journal. The restaurateur has found himself cooking at home more often these days, even before quarantine, with the birth of his son Hugo. “The way I prepare food for my family is completely different than how I go about it at work. It is a different beast.”
It was this newfound appreciation for the household grind that spurred Chang to create Recipe Club, a Spotify podcast where he and Chris Ying explore different variations of familiar dishes. We spoke with the Ugly Delicious host about the new podcast, his favorite holiday eats, and go-to kitchen gear.
How did this new show, Recipe Club, come to be?
I have been podcasting for awhile now, and really enjoy experimenting with different subjects and topics on my regular show. There have been certain segments that have found their way back, but probably the most popular one was Recipe Club. The first few episodes were on dishes like chicken parmigiana and BLTs. The concept is kind of like a book club, where everybody has the framework, but everyone is meant to have their own interpretation.
Why did now seem like the right time to do a show like this?
I think we were motivated by the fact that there are more people cooking at home now than ever, and it seems like that will stay the course for the foreseeable future. I am also working on a cookbook right now. This seemed like a great time and opportunity to share with people how I personally cook.
I want to help people understand that a recipe can be more of a guideline than a mandate. We really try to select dishes that aren’t overly difficult, because we want people to participate. We don’t want them to just cook by the numbers either, but to teach them how to improvise, and ultimately have some fun.
On top of that, we are in the midst of a very unusual holiday season.
Exactly. There are a lot of people who haven’t been able to visit their families during this time, and we realize that more people are cooking those big holiday meals, maybe with little to no experience doing it. They don’t have their parents or other family members just taking care of everything.
How has it been for you personally, spending a lot more time cooking at home?
I would say that having more time to prepare food at home has been one of the silver linings, if there are any, to this current situation we are in. But I was already on a trajectory to do more at home, especially with my wife giving birth to my son. I was making food for her while she was carrying him and now that she is feeding him, there is a lot of care that goes into those meals. Since then, I have cooked in ways that I never had before.
What are your thoughts on the difference between cooking at home and at one of your restaurants?
Cooking at home isn’t all about precision. It more like hitting the target, rather than trying to hit the bullseye. I think it is much more present to what is going on around you, the atmosphere, the people. Cooking for my family has opened me up to new ways of looking at cooking, and that added importance of truly trying to nurture and nourish someone. Not just to impress. [Laughs]. I know that sounds cheesy.
What is one strategy you recommend for people to make cooking easier for themselves during their holiday meals?
I want people to embrace the microwave this year. So that is the biggest advice that I would give. Buy a good one, and start to explore the amazing things you can do. I make my mashed potatoes using a microwave. I don’t boil them anymore, because it is just much quicker and just as good to use that microwave. I know that in some ways, people might see that as not-as-cool, but the fact is it works.
Do you have a favorite recipe for someone who wanted to impress their household?
I think Edna Lewis has the best recipe with her cornbread, pecan stuffing. I think it is great as a dressing, and great to make outside of Thanksgiving too. We discussed in our Thanksgiving episode whether or not to put stuffing in the bird, and I am personally against it. That is the one [recipe] that I would go with. It has that from scratch element to it.
This is a difficult time for the hospitality industry. Being a restaurant owner, what is the best way for people to support their local eateries?
Give as much support as you can to your local businesses, and if possible, buy directly from them rather than through a service. I would say secondly, that if anyone has any friends or family that can vote in the Georgia runoffs, that is also tremendously important to the future of the industry.
There are many people who can’t travel now, but a great way to explore other cultures is through food. Is there a kind of cuisine that you think people usually ignore when it comes to delivery?
I would say that Korean food is great for takeaway and delivery. Like in New York, there are so many great spots on 32nd street. The one place that I order from whenever I am in the city is a tiny bodega shop with really good home-like Korean food––Kofoo. I am not looking for a glitzy restaurant when I am looking for Korean food, I want dishes that taste like home.
Do you think you will be doing any Korean recipes on Recipe Club?
I would love to bindaetteok, which is a mungbean pancake. It may not sound good in English but it is delicious in Korean. I like recipes that expose people to Korean foods, that aren’t out in the rest of the world as much. Everybody knows kimchi.
Everybody is spending a lot of time at home these days, how are you and the family spending the nights?
We have been streaming a few shows, the ones that everyone is watching these days. The Mandalorian and The Queen’s Gambit. For snacks, I am a big fan of homemade popcorn. I make it in a big pot, top it with our Momofuku savory salt and a touch of the tingly salt. I have been drinking a lot less lately too, especially since the boy was born, but I have been enjoying these non-alcoholic beers from Athletic Brew.
DAVID CHANG’S HOME COOKING KITCHEN NECESSITIES
I have become a big fan of having a really good nonstick cooking pot. They are great for everything, and so easy to use. [$79.99]
The knives that you buy don’t need to be extremely fancy. They need to be able to keep an edge. [$299.95]
This is the best way to keep your knives sharp, and make sure you buy ones that you don’t mind using this on. Learn how to do it properly. [$49.95]
The cutting board is a very important piece of the puzzle. [$64.98]
I want people to embrace the microwave this year.
I use this one from Great Jones for a lot of different dishes. It is great.
Chang recently released a powerful memoir titled “Eat A Peach.”