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Eat a Peach

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In 2004, David Chang opened a noodle restaurant named Momofuku in Manhattan's East Village, not expecting the business to survive its first year. In 2018, he was the owner and chef of his own restaurant empire, with 15 locations from New York to Australia, the star of his own hit Netflix show and podcast, was named one of the most influential people of the 21st century and had a following of over 1.2 million. In this inspiring, honest and heartfelt memoir, Chang shares the extraordinary story of his culinary coming-of-age.

Growing up in Virginia, the son of Korean immigrant parents, Chang struggled with feelings of abandonment, isolation and loneliness throughout his childhood. After failing to find a job after graduating, he convinced his father to loan him money to open a restaurant. Momofuku's unpretentious air and great-tasting simple staples - ramen bowls and pork buns - earned it rave reviews, culinary awards and before long, Chang had a cult following.

Momofuku's popularity continued to grow with Chang opening new locations across the U.S. and beyond. In 2009, his Ko restaurant received two Michelin stars and Chang went on to open Milk Bar, Momofuku's bakery. By 2012, he had become a restaurant mogul with the opening of the Momofuku building in Toronto, encompassing three restaurants and a bar.

Chang's love of food and cooking remained a constant in his life, despite the adversities he had to overcome. Over the course of his career, the chef struggled with suicidal thoughts, depression and anxiety. He shied away from praise and begged not to be given awards. In Eat a Peach, Chang opens up about his feelings of paranoia, self-confidence and pulls back the curtain on his struggles, failures and learned lessons. Deeply personal, honest and humble, Chang's story is one of passion and tenacity, against the odds.

288 pages, Hardcover

First published September 8, 2020

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David Chang

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,442 reviews
Profile Image for Cindy.
407 reviews112k followers
January 18, 2021
I admire Chang’s passion for cooking and can relate to his workaholic tendencies as a way to find meaning in his life. As someone with zero knowledge of the restaurant industry and chef celebrity culture, I was surprisingly interested in what he revealed about the field, the difficulties that come with it, and even the politics and drama. I liked seeing the underdog narrative and how he really had to grind to get to where he is today - this makes me want to read a fictional chef drama now to continue rooting for the passionate underdog! What keeps me at a 3 star rating is that the book straddles the line between being a how-to guide for chefs vs being a personal memoir without fully committing to either. This results in diluted learnings when the book would have been better if he fully developed on either route. For the chef route, I would have loved it if he expanded more on the industry being a boys’ club, the societal expectations of Asian chefs in America, the politics and pretentiousness of the dining experience and how to navigate that, etc. For the memoir route, I would have loved it if he expanded how he grappled with his bipolar disorder and workaholic tendencies, his explosive attitudes towards his colleagues, the cost of how much work took away from his personal life and joy, etc.

I appreciate that Chang was upfront about his flaws, but often got the impression that he glossed over them. I could feel his reluctance with talking in-depth about his mistakes and shortcomings. Sections like the #MeToo movement, in which he admitted he was part of the boys’ club issue and hadn’t considered the struggles of women chefs before, were short and felt like they were just included to make sure they were there. He often talks about regretting how poorly he treated his workers and the verbal abuse he gave them, but doesn’t go into detail or mention how he has proven better behavior to make up for it. This makes it difficult for me to fully trust what he chooses to show and the extent of authenticity. I get the impression that the publishing of this book was very much due to the publisher getting him to do it, and that Chang himself is not fully ready to expose himself personally and deeply to his audience.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,962 reviews293k followers
April 27, 2020
The mental and physical toll of working in restaurants is corrosive. It will take generations to undo the harm and build an industry that is equitable for people of all genders, races, ethnicities, sexualities, and beliefs. We need to be responsible for one another.

This was a very interesting book. I'm not someone who usually cares to read chef memoirs and I don't think of myself as particularly interested in the restaurant business, but the author opens his heart in Eat a Peach and tackles a lot of tough subjects on the road to telling his life story. Plus, I just quite like David Chang.

My husband got me interested in David Chang. He’s a big foodie, which seems to be synonymous with “human” if you happen to live in Los Angeles. He also speaks highly of the way Chang talks about mental illness and its stigma among East Asian Americans. Chang goes into a lot of depth about his struggles with his mental health in this book and-- while his sense of humour does shine through --I should point out that it's a pretty dark read.

Chang has dealt with, and continues to deal with, depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation and no small amount of Impostor Syndrome that crept upon him as his restaurant was awarded two Michelin stars and he was named among Time’s 100 most influential people. I know reading about this can be upsetting for some, but I really appreciated the candid way he wrote about his insecurities and personal demons.

Race and racial stereotyping come up a lot in Chang's memoir. He has spoken out in the past on the stigma against mental illness in East Asian American families and communities. Due to cultural norms, many East Asian Americans do not seek the help they need. But in this book, he goes a step further and looks at the experience of growing up Korean in America, and how certain stereotypes set East Asian Americans up for failure and/or anxiety.

He talks about the "smart Asian" stereotype and how demoralizing it feels if you're not academically gifted; he talks about the perceived limited career options for East Asians and how being a chef seems ludicrous to most; and he also offers a critique of the "tiger mom". This is something I first heard when I came to California and it always struck me as both deeply racist and sexist. David Chang has other thoughts, though, about the parenting style itself. I found it very interesting how he calls it a way of giving a cute name to a type of parenting that is dejecting and exhausting for a child. He believes it is a cultural norm that should be strongly discouraged.

I also really liked his "Blind Spots" chapter. He talks here about the ignorance that goes along with privilege and how he himself was able to look the other way when women received misogynistic treatment in the industry. He acknowledges that he was part of the problem by ignoring it. Obviously, he can't change the past, but his voice matters a lot in this industry, so I am glad he is taking some steps to point out where he (and others) could have done better.

Eat a Peach is a not a standard "fun" chef memoir full of shenanigans and laughs, but its importance cannot be overstated. David Chang never tries too hard to be inspirational, and somehow that makes it even more so.

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Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 3 books248k followers
September 22, 2020
”For all my bluster, I was scared shitless. Writing about the facts of my life here, it seems like a logical progression, This happened and then that happened and I slowly learned this and by the time this moment came I was ready. But in between every triumph or epiphany I’ve described in this book, there were five hundred moments of doubt. There were embarrassments and mistakes, people I pissed off or disappointed, chances I squandered. There were dishes that sucked and services that made me want to tear my eyeballs out. And there was the constant thrum of depression in the back of my skull.”

I’ve become a recent fan of David Chang. Well, fan might be too strong a word. More accurately, I’ve recently discovered an appreciation for David Chang. I watched a couple of episodes of his show Ugly Delicious, and even though I didn’t love the episodes the same way as I did Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown series, I felt this tingling in my head that this Chang guy was someone I needed to keep an eye on. He might eventually become someone interesting.

Soon after watching a couple of episodes of his show, I had one of those book magic moments when I was contacted about reading an ARC of his memoir. I try to make sure that I listen when the universe is speaking to me...I said, send me a copy. I had a similar feeling about Ali Wong’s memoir. I had just watched one of her scorching, hilariously irreverent tv specials when I was asked about reading her book. I usually like books to percolate and simmer out there for a while before I decide to read them, but there was something about the groundbreaking intelligence of these two personalities that reassured me that my time would not be wasted.

It was most assuredly not wasted.

In the intro to Chang’s book, he talked about the struggles with selecting a cover. He had an idea; his creative team had a different idea, and his publisher had an even more different idea. They sent mock up covers to a focus group, which if I were an eye-roller, I would have rolled my eyes, but in this case he found out some very interesting information. ”Okay, so my face and my name were the problem. I have to admit that was a little confusing for someone who (1) has historically been sensitive about the particulars of my appearance and the general Asianness of my face and name, and (2) was already struggling to understand why people would want to read this book. But again, I respect data. We deemphasized the name and removed the face. If it helps you enjoy the book, I have no problem with your imagining it was written by a white author named David Chance.”

What is interesting is that David admits he is a twinkie. He might look Asian on the outside, but he is white on the inside. He is the youngest boy in his family, and when I watched the Thanksgiving episode of Ugly Delicious, it was obvious that his parents were at a different economic level when they raised him from when they raised his older siblings. His mother calls him Baby King, and that might explain a lot of why he has been successful with opening restaurants, but also why he has been unsuccessful in many of his interactions with people on a personal level. His anger issues feel so rooted in privilege, even though over time he has discovered some deeper psychological reasons for his anger. So the focus group saw him as an Asian and nothing beyond that, and they considered his Asian features to be a detriment to them enjoying the book. *sigh* David joked about this, but there is no doubt that this confirmed much of his inherent insecurities about the way he looks.

America really needs to grow up and evolve out of its inherent racism, sexism...well, all -isms.

One thing I want to make clear is that, for all his thorns, he clearly exposes the barbs and how they have made him bleed. When he had a consultant analyze his business, one of the first things he was told by this expert was that he was really fortunate to be so successful, considering how many people in the structure of his business hate him. His rocket rise has been amazing. He was a man with the right idea and the right execution at the right time. He is, for all intents and purposes, a made man...at least until the next great concept person comes along and knocks him out of the clouds.

I don’t really feel that will happen. He is always questioning why he believes things, why he does things a certain way, and his food menu will always get stale for him long before his customers get tired of it. If he can now figure out how to be happier with himself, he can maybe be a better person for everybody else to know, too. Kudos to him for ripping off the bandages (he’s seriously a walking mummy) and talking candidly about what drove him and also what has held him back.

One of his favorite quotes, that really does fit his personality, is from the Ethan Hawke move Gattaca:”’This is how I did it, Anton,’ says Vincent. ‘I never saved anything for the swim back.’” For those who haven’t seen the movie, that quote may not mean much, but for us who have watched that movie many times, it is one of the moments in cinema history that defines what is best about us being mutts. We can be hindered by our perceived weaknesses, or we can strive to be more than the sum of our parts.

He shared a couple of interactions that he had with Bourdain. Tony was the guy he would occasionally meet up with to chat and in the process hopefully recenter himself. I only wish that Tony had weighed how important he was to so many people before he took his life and how many people, such as Chang, benefited from his acquired wisdom. I worry about the long-term, negative influence his suicide will have on those who respected him and, in some cases, idolized him. For a guy like David, who suffers from serious bouts of depression, I do hope that Bourdain’s decision does not unduly influence him. Life will continue to throw David curveballs. It doesn’t matter how rich someone is or how successful they are; none of us get through this life without facing major, critical, soul-crushing losses and setbacks.

As David says at one point in the book,...so you might be asking yourself how I’m still alive?

Currently, Chang is opening new restaurants as quickly as he can. He sees that as being successful. He no longer cooks. He has become a personality. He is the face of his expansion. He has found people to manage his restaurants, and there are certainly many sighs of relief from kitchen staff, but his creative input will be essential for the needed evolution of his original concepts. I ultimately don’t think he will be happy with the expansion of his ideas into a national conglomeration of cookie cutter store fronts. As he says, a workaholic only hits bottom when he reaches the top of his profession. Well, he is about to hit bottom, and then what? If he survives his success, I wouldn’t be surprised to find him in twenty years working in the kitchen of a Midnight Diner in Tokyo.

He is precocious and irritating, but he is equally fascinating and honest. I really felt like I had some good Chang synergy going as I read this book and watched episodes of Ugly Delicious. His 33 rules for being a chef in the back of the book will also benefit anyone who wants to be successful in business. One of my favorites was #3, where he urges people to go to college rather than culinary school and “study Shakespeare or the Medicis, the Ottomans, Genghis Khan, the Aztecs, Jared Diamond, Darwinism.” To be successful at one thing you have to know about a lot of things. Broaden your exposure to what the world has to offer, and that stew of knowledge is where the creative ideas will be spawned.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten and an Instagram account https://www.instagram.com/jeffreykeeten/
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews155k followers
March 14, 2021
3.5 stars

You never know who's going to hold the keys to the castle.
David Chang burst out onto the culinary scene with Momofuku - a noodle restaurant located in Manhattan.

And after a decade and a half of grueling work, it's safe to say that he's "made" it. He owns 15 restaurants, has graced the television over and over, has his own podcast and has 1.2 million followers.

But how?
But for years, my best coping strategy has been work.
Eat a Peach is Chang's memoir - from his childhood balancing a tiger mom and wild golf career to convincing his dad to loan him enough money for restaurant.

He speaks candidly about how his fixation with success has affected both his career and his home life.
The paradox for the workaholic is that rock bottom is the top of whatever profession they’re in.
And he speaks about what the fallout of that was.
But if you've fought depression or know somebody who has, you know that no amount of money can fix it. No amount of fame. No logic.
Overall, this was a lovely memoir.

I hadn't heard of him prior to picking this one up but it was a rather interesting peek into the culinary world.

I loved how Chang spoke about his successes but also the failures - what business plans didn't work and how he worked around that. It was refreshing to read about someone who speaks so candidly about failure.

I also really enjoyed that he pulled no punches when talking about what it takes to get to the top.

It honestly sounds like way more stress than what it's worth and while I'm now 110% sure that I don't even want to get anywhere NEAR the culinary profession - it was still cool to learn about his career path.


Just published my November Reading Vlog!
The Written Review
All in all, this was an interesting read!

YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,001 reviews35.9k followers
September 23, 2020
SPOILERS ... inside ..... but will only make sense to the people who have read this book—( or know David Chang’s history)

so none of my spoilers should take anything away from the book who have not read it
who also want to read this review.

Here goes ( written from under my covers - barely waking)

... I have the physical book too ..... with the stunning eye catching - heartfelt - powerful - compelling book COVER that sooooo represents the true story inside!!!

First — and foremost- this is a very engaging audiobook memoir. The physical book is too but I haven’t read it as thoroughly as I have listened to the audiobook.
My fault. I had the physical book months ago but just got to the audio book recently.

I cannot stop thinking about specifics in this book. I love David Chang’s honesty- not sure I’d like very many of food concoctions — I’m not a foodie.
Sorry - I’m more of a plain Jane eater. Not into ‘too’ fancy - ‘too spicy’ - too many food combinations going on at one time.
But I do love noodles - I’d love a try at his noodles.

More about DAVID.... the man... the consequences from
things he has said to people that hurt- and angered them...
I UNDERSTAND having struggles - mental disorders - I absolutely LOVE DAVID’S RAW STRAIGHT- TALK...

AND/BUT.... I admit getting emotionally triggered a couple of times - and felt mad at him myself.
98% of David Chang —- I ADORE - LOVE LOVE LOVE — everything David Chang ( including 100% love for his wife and son)

That said ... I have my little beef, too (and sorry, I’m not a beefy girl either), .... so here goes:
LISTEN TO THIS, DAVID..... ( and to other readers who have read this book):
Please don’t judge me - or our city TOO HARSHLY....
if I/ we don’t like to mix FIGS with other foods.

I FELT REALLY SAD WHAT DAVID SAID ABOUT PEOPLE IN THE SFBAY area!!! Not that he expressed what he did, and I’m sorry that chefs were so angry, and I’m sorry his book tour was canceled in San Francisco.... sorry so many people felt David was a jerk—-
Personally I wish David were more flexible about his NEVER.....it’s like David crushed everyone and threw the baby out with the bath water too. (ha....but with a pandemic -no restaurants are opening --covid-19 happened!!!)

I DID LAUGH - got a great chuckle that people in SF should smoke more weed. Not a horrible idea! Lol

But I also wish bygones were bygones .... the old David Chang ‘sting’ were all forgiven from all sides!!!!

were a little understanding of why people were angry at you. —

I’m still sad and am left with thoughts between David and his father.
This is NOT an attack on David or anyone....
I’ve read sooooo many books this year where adult daughters criticize their mothers, adult sons criticize their fathers, and every other combination of criticism, criticism, criticism from the adult-child about their parents.
I’m so sick of it!!!!!
I want to slap the adult-child and therapists who point to the sagaciousness - righteousness - and certainty of their farsightedness..... that everything stems back to childhood.... and it’s always the parents fault.
It’s a rare person or therapist who focuses on being at caused in the matter, taking responsibility, ( not blame or guilt for themselves or others), simply willing to own their part,
and grow themselves up,
be sincerely forgiving, compassionate, and kind....
contribute back to their parents: let their parents off the hook; express love and gratitude,
rather than continue to be self-centered, narcissistic, right, and unforgiving. I just WISH THIS .... you know?

There are MANY THINGS TO ENJOY IN THIS MEMOIR.... lots to think about - readers feel involved!!!!

We get an inside look at how David Chang thinks, feels, expresses himself, operates, eats, manages and mentors others.
I wish David didn’t have the mental struggles he does - but hell - I wish I didn’t have physical struggles I have ....
Life is the way it is!!
Life isn’t the way it’s not!!!


Success.... like David has experienced it.....
is HARD WORK....


When all is said and done - good- crappy - ugly - mean and wonderful.....
I have a BIG LOVING SPOT in my HEART for this American Korean successful restaurant owner, personality ....

I’d love to go fly fishing with him - his wife - and son!
I’d like to taste his noodles.
I’m very sorry for the loss, regret, sadness, anger, and memories that still may haunt David.

I’m happy - really really thankful-happy- that David has his wife and son. I’m sincerely moved that David’s most primal need is fulfilled...( his wife and son),
David has exceptional raw talent ...
He is exceptional in that he had a type of unreasonable vision - willing to face failure in the face over and over again.....
David is a risk taker ...
Struggles with bouts of anger outbursts- that hurt others....

Eat a Peach is TREASURE!!!!

I look forward to the opportunity to zoom with David later this month!!!

I honestly like the man he is - flaws and all.

I’ll still prefer figs plain. Lol

Highly recommend the AUDIOBOOK
DAVID ADDS comments on the audio that are not in the physical book — making for a very intimate connection.

Profile Image for Candi.
614 reviews4,633 followers
June 5, 2021
“Restaurants saved my life, but they’ve also hurt and betrayed many of my peers. I believe our industry can still be a place of healing—a refuge where people nurture one another physically and spiritually—but only if we make it so.”

Here’s a confession or two. First of all, I absolutely love to dine out. Besides reading, exploring different cuisines and searching for new restaurants to patronize is one of my favorite pastimes. This is one reason I so desire to seek haven in an urban locale versus this tiresome suburban setting I’m currently trapped within. I also need to own up to the fact that I hadn’t the foggiest idea who David Chang was until I read my friend Charles’s review of this absorbing memoir! (Read it here!) His enthusiasm combined with my love for food (and good writing) made it a cinch for me to snatch this up when I saw it as a kindle deal a few months ago. Besides being a delight to read in general, I found it inspiring and informative! This is one of those cases where the creative process leaves me wholly fascinated. And I learned a ton about the restaurant industry without becoming completely overwhelmed by it. No glazing over of the eyes here.

“I was completely, certifiably average.”

“There was no romantic, come-to-Jesus moment about cooking, but I had at least found something I didn’t hate doing.”

Chang relates his childhood growing up in Virginia as the son of Korean immigrants. He claims to have had no special skills or intellect to set him above the common student. (Aside from an early proficiency at playing golf which apparently fizzled out.) His father was involved in the restaurant business and specifically discouraged if not outright forbade any of his children following his lead. But it seems Chang was destined for just such a vocation. He has that drive necessary to succeed in the industry. I already knew this was a tough career to jump into much less prosper, but Chang seemed to thrive under the pressures. He informs us that he’s had a lifetime battle with depression and mental illness, which he notes in a fashion fed into his numerous accomplishments. His flexibility and determination were key factors in his growth as a person and as a businessman. The ability to adapt is a trait everyone absolutely needs in order to get on in this world, and Chang sets a great example.

“The human equivalent of not wanting to molt is trying to make life easy, refusing to grow or be self-reflective.”

He applied this idea to his businesses even when defeat seemed right around the corner. Rather than giving up, he made changes. Beginning with his ramen noodle place in the East Village in Manhattan, Momofuku, Chang has since expanded internationally and went on to have a Netflix show and a magazine, Lucky Peach, for a time. He has received multiple awards/accolades over the years. He has made eating affordable and fun at many of his locations! Now that’s something I can totally buy into. He reflects on so many things here and doesn’t always come across as the most affable person, but he owns up to his flaws and stands by what he believes. After all, these are the things that have made him the person he is today. I loved learning about his wife, Grace, and their little boy, Hugo. These two have shaped his personality further and given him additional inspiration in this unpredictable ride we call life!

This was a real pleasure to read and on a couple of occasions he mentions his encounters with and admiration for Anthony Bourdain. That had me running to dig up my copy of Kitchen Confidential from the shelf. (Another treat to look forward to this summer!) While David Chang says he wouldn’t tell anyone to get into the business, the end of his memoir includes some things to consider should you decide to eschew his warnings – this made me laugh. At the same time, I found them to be quite wise. Here’s one of my favorites that illustrates not just a sound business tip, but highlights the kind of person I believe Chang to be after reading his words. This applies to all walks of life, not just the restaurant business.

“See as much of the world as humanly possible: You need to be surrounded by people and understand why cuisine happens the way it does. Eat everything you can. Take it all in—not just the food, but all the beauty, heartache, wealth, poverty, struggle, racism, history, and art you can find. It’s going to help you empathize with people, which is the most powerful tool at a chef’s disposal.”
Profile Image for Regina.
1,136 reviews2,995 followers
December 1, 2020
Since "Eat a Peach" is a Goodreads Choice Awards nominee for Best Food/Cookbook, I decided to give it a go.

But you know what? Once again GR has missed the mark by not putting this in the Memoir category. This is definitely not a cookbook - not a recipe in sight. Sure, a peach is a food and David Chang cooks food, but as it says right on the cover and he emphasizes repeatedly throughout... it's a MEMOIR. A dang good one at that!

I went into this not knowing anything about David Chang. I *think* I might have eaten at one of his restaurants and have generally heard of Momofuku and Milk Bar, but I've never heard his name, never watched his Netflix shows, never listened to his podcast. So when the life story of an unknown subject completely sucks you in, you gotta give it at least 4 stars.

Recommended for gourmands, anyone considering going into the food industry or opening a small hospitality-driven business, or people interested in mental health struggles (Chang is diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder).
Profile Image for Lisa.
1,462 reviews560 followers
June 12, 2021
[2.75] I avoid celebrity memoirs and was surprised to discover after starting Eat a Peach, that Chang is a big star. When I googled him there were 264 million results - that's a lot of fans! So it makes sense that when his agent asked for a memoir, he knocked this one out with his ghostwriter.

The good part of this book is the behind-the-scenes look at restaurant kitchens and at starting and running a restaurant. Chang is obviously a talented and creative individual. Anyone who wants to be a chef should read this book!

The bad part is that Chang has the perspective of an immature adolescent. He thrives on chaos and is extremely self-absorbed. When he writes about his shortcomings, it feels rote without true self-awareness. I can almost hear Chang’s editor saying - "You present as too unlikeable - let's insert a section where you confess your sins and struggles with depression and promise to do better." Chang promises again and again to do better - which I found very tedious. But take my perspective with several grains of salt - most readers seem to love this book.
Profile Image for Brandice.
855 reviews
December 28, 2020
I wasn’t very familiar with David Chang before hearing about the release of Eat a Peach a few months ago. I listened to this audiobook, narrated by David himself and thought his story was interesting.

Chang grew up in Virginia and is the son of Korean immigrants. In this memoir, he discusses feelings of isolation, depression, pushing others away, dealing with criticism, how he grew his career as a chef, and eventually, founded his restaurants. He details many of the lessons he learned along the way.

I appreciate Chang’s honesty in Eat a Peach and think his story will especially be of interest to existing fans of him/ his restaurants and those potentially interested in a culinary career path. He doesn’t sugarcoat the hard work required to succeed in this competitive space, and while the examples shared are kitchen focused, many of the principles can be applied elsewhere in other venues. I haven’t been to Momofuku but would love to go someday — 3.5 stars (rounded up).
Profile Image for Bkwmlee.
383 reviews255 followers
September 1, 2020
4.5 stars

Let me start off this review with a full disclosure: prior to deciding to read this book, I had never heard of David Chang or Momofuku. I know it’s probably hard to believe, especially since there is a Momofuku restaurant in Los Angeles (though to my defense, it’s in the downtown area, which is far from where I actually live) and from what I understand (after the fact, of course), Chang is “prolific” enough to have his own Netflix show, podcast, as well a bestselling cookbook (which means he is not some unknown chef who spends his time holed up in the kitchen), so it’s not like there aren’t plenty of opportunities to have heard of him. In all honesty, I chalk up my ignorance to the fact that I’m not a “foodie” (I love food, but I’m definitely not the “food connoisseur” type), plus I don’t like to cook so there’s not a whole lot of reason for me to pay too much attention to the food world here. So the big question then is how did I hear about this memoir and why would I want to read it in the first place? Well, the answer is a bit complicated. I first heard about Chang’s memoir on a podcast that I was listening to, then later on, coincidentally, I came across an article about Chang that talked about the “rarity” of his success as a chef (and now media personality as well) of East Asian (Korean) descent who was able to “make it big” in the American culinary world. Being of East Asian descent myself (Chinese), this naturally piqued my interest, and so despite not having much clue beforehand who David Chang is and even less idea of what goes on in the culinary world, I decided to pick this memoir up anyway and go with it.

In this memoir, through the “war stories” he tells about his experiences coming up the ranks as a chef and then later, a restaurant mogul, David Chang gives us a candid, fascinating glimpse into the culinary world. What I appreciated most though was the way he presented the culinary industry – and his place in it -- with an intensity and raw honesty that I wasn’t really expecting. On the one hand, he talks about the rewarding satisfaction of creating something that others enjoy, even admire, and why some people would be attracted to the world he inhabits, but on the other hand, he also presents the harsh realities of his world (the grueling hours, the constant stress and pressure, the physical and mental exhaustion, the emotional toll that the often fast-paced and sometimes toxic environment can have on you, etc. ) and why it’s not a profession that everyone is cut out for. In one of my favorite sections of the book, the chapter at the end where Chang outlines 33 Rules for Becoming a Chef, he starts off by saying : “For those who became chefs because they HAD to, it’s crazy that anybody with other options would WANT to work in restaurants” – then subsequently lays out point by point what to expect, in a way that, by the time you get to the end, you get the feeling that being a chef is one of the worst jobs you can possibly choose.

In addition to his candid take on the culinary / restaurant industry however, Chang is also honest about his personal struggles and shortcomings. He talks openly about his anger issues, about his battle with depression that essentially pushed him to open Momofuku in the first place, about how he still struggles with suicidal thoughts, about how he sees a therapist on a consistent basis and oftentimes relies on medication to function. He’s also resigned to the fact that these issues will likely continue to follow him the rest of his life, yet he refuses to let that stop him from continuing to do what he loves. What makes this revelation a big deal is the fact that he comes from a culture where mental illness is an uncomfortable topic that is not usually discussed publicly (it’s very seldom acknowledged or talked about within the family unit either). This part of Chang’s story, as well as when he talks about his family background, resonated the most for me on a personal level. A lot of what he experienced and struggled with as a second generation Asian-American (whose parents immigrated to the U.S. from an East Asian territory) were definitely familiar, as I’ve encountered much of the same as well in my childhood (the same can probably be said of most Asian kids who grew up in immigrant households). The cultural influences relevant to the family environment he grew up in, the nuances of his relationship with his parents and siblings, the racial discrimination he encountered at school and elsewhere, the struggle with his own identity and never really feeling that he fit in anywhere (he refers to himself as a “twinkie” – yellow on the outside, white on the inside – hence, rejected by white kids because his face is “too Asian” while at the same time rejected by the Asian kids because everything else about him is “too white”) – these were all things that he struggled with growing up, though the hardest part is actually having to reconcile all of it physically, mentally, and emotionally as an adult. Ironically, in Chang’s case, he ended up choosing a career that exacerbated these issues rather than alleviate them. Summarizing these childhood experiences in one of the earlier chapters of his book, Chang writes: “This all leads me to question whether kitchen custom created my personal brand of rage. I think the job – the fear, the stress, the habits I’d learned, the culture – unlocked what was already roiling inside me.”

What is interesting to note is that Chang’s struggle with his own identity and cultural background is reflected in his restaurants. As with many Asian cultures, when it comes to food, there is a “traditionalist” sentiment that dictates what can and can’t be done with certain dishes, especially ones that are culturally significant. Chang put it best when he described a meal he attended put on by a Korean chef living in Japan who came up with a celery kimchi dish: “I began to understand that what holds us back from culinary progress is often some cultural roadblock that we honor in the name of preservation – the kind of arbitrary roadblock that says, You’re not supposed to do that with kimchi.” This cultural sentiment played a huge role growing up too, as Chang also wrote about the overwhelming need to blend in as kids, which basically meant hiding the “traditional” foods that he would normally eat at home from his white classmates out of shame and also fear of being further made fun of and teased. All of these experiences made it difficult for Chang to completely embrace his Korean heritage and for many years, with his restaurants, he worked to bury “any sign of Koreanness under other influences and disguises” – for example, all of his restaurants have Japanese names rather than Korean, and up until he opened Majordomo in Los Angeles, he avoided having Korean dishes on the menu (even with Majordomo, there is actually no “traditional” Korean food on the menu , but many of the dishes do have Korean influences, as does the design of the restaurant itself). This is also one of the things that makes the Momofuku enterprise unique, as it doesn’t identify with any one particular culture – rather, it’s an eclectic mix of influences from various cultures (Chang said that whenever he is cornered for an answer on what type of cuisine his restaurant should be categorized as, his number one response is usually “American”).

Even though I can be quite picky when it comes to memoirs, over the years, I’ve read my fair share of both really good ones and really bad ones. David Chang’s Eat A Peach definitely falls under the “really good” category and is a memoir that I absolutely recommend. For those who are interested in joining the culinary industry, this is an insightful read, especially the last section 33 Rules for Becoming a Chef – the advice that Chang gives in this section is invaluable! For those who, like me, aren’t really interested in the culinary world, but just want to read a well-written, fascinating memoir about a person whose experiences are relatable and resonant, even for someone coming from completely different backgrounds, this is definitely a great choice. Reading this memoir actually spurred me to research Momofuku online so I could learn more about it. Oh and I now have Majordomo on my bucket list of restaurants that I would like to visit and eat at some day (once this whole pandemic thing is over of course)!

Received ARC from Clarkson Potter via NetGalley
Profile Image for Jenny (Reading Envy).
3,876 reviews3,049 followers
September 15, 2020
I devoured this memoir by Chef David Chang. I have enough of a background in the culinary world to know how hard it is, how few people succeed, how easy it is to completely burn out. It can be such hard work when you're only responsible for yourself; taking on the risks of managing and opening a restaurant are unfathomable to me.

Every once in a while you find someone who despite those same struggles pulls off something amazing and changes the landscape forever, and that is this story. Even if you aren't into food but you have an interest in the creative process, in how to fail and use it as fuel, this will be inspiring on that level too. The irony is that he is not trying to be inspiring, but just to talk about what happened and how. He also discusses struggles with his own mental illness and how this line of work almost manifested as its own addiction (that's my diagnosis/connection and may not be what he really said.)

I know the pandemic has gutted the restaurant industry and his brand didn't escape it either. I cried the night he posted about closing one of his restaurants. In some ways the memoir captures the hopeful period right before all this happened, and maybe that is one reason I kept finding reasons to listen to it. I've followed so many of his endeavors over the years from Lucky Peach to the tv shows; I even remember watching a televised report on the foraging competition (Eat it Raw) in 2010. I've never been to his restaurants because I've never been to NYC but after listening to this audiobook I feel like we've been on that journey together. Such a creative thinker, such a world builder, I finish this book astounded even more than I already was.

As for the title, I know most will assume it comes from The Love song of J. Alfred Prufrock ("I grow old ... I grow old ...I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled...Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?") but I like to think it's a more obscure reference to Nicolas Cage in Face Off ("I could eat a peach for hours..")
Profile Image for Charles.
176 reviews
January 9, 2021
Okay, maybe the pandemic is doing me in and a new Charles is emerging or something, but I can’t see myself giving this memoir fewer than five stars. Memoirs are not especially my thing, so these are kind of intimate stars, arbitrary ones from bottom to top even more than usual, with my heart beating fast and a big grin on my face. Eat a Peach hit bullseye, just like that. No transcendence, no elevated affairs, no airs. Just one fun ride across progressive kitchens around the world and their fauna, with David Chang as your host. The perfect delivery for my tastes: casual educated, my fave, with an eye out for fun along the way. It also reads like a giant mea culpa from the author for any number of things but there was so much more to the book than this.

Entirely different line of work here, yet the way Chang developed his narrative, his book felt a lot like There Will Be No Quiet by Stanley Donwood had in 2019, both in voice and approach. Donwood is the artist who came up with every Radiohead album cover and related material over the years, evolving in style and often jumping paths completely, experimenting with his art from one album to the next just like Radiohead was experimenting with their music. His parallel career with the band’s makes for loads of good stuff to put in a memoir and the guy comes across as a fun, companiable (if unpredictable) character. I had given it five stars and I had no idea when or if I would come across that very specific alignment of stars again, for just this type of smart, laid-back yet competent book; I just did with Eat a Peach. Similar audience, similar contemporary mindsets and commonplace markers, in either book. Again, the tone. That tone, listen to it. We’re between us, it says. Make yourself comfy. The moment is right now.

I eat out a few times a month – well, usually: you’ll agree with me that this winter sucks eggs, right? – and I love what good dining has turned itself into over the last while. Even though for the most part I cook for myself, I also keep up with the forward-thinking places that pop up in Montreal, rolling them up with shows, often the ballet, for a perfect night out. Special treats. We don’t have any Momofuku incarnation up here, but I went to the one in Toronto a few years back, specifically to Daishō when it existed, and it was precisely the type of fun, competent cuisine that would hit home with me. I had a great time, that night. Everyone in our small group left that place smiling.

I’m rambling, here.

Eat a Peach playfully engaged conversation just the right way, then kept it going. It’s the type of memoir (and voice in the zeitgeist) you’d expect from the guy behind a place and idea like Momofuku. If that sounds good to you, go for it. The writing neither loses steam nor condescends; seriously, the delivery is top-notch and David Chang obviously received fantastic advice from whoever collaborated with him on this. Five stars. Loved this ride.
Profile Image for Apple.
49 reviews5 followers
October 9, 2020
This book is in the vein of ‘everyone feels they have to write a book’. It also reads rather impersonally and makes David Chang seem like a jerk. I think it’s written to temper his image of being a jerk however it doesn’t really achieve that aim. He refers to his staff almost like property and has a superior tone throughout the book. It was interesting to read some of the stories about the restaurant but I don’t think the book had to be written. The writing was dull and I think mostly written by an assistant. Somehow the personal stories read impersonally. I did learn about how branded restaurants are started in various locales which was interesting.
Profile Image for Woman Reading .
431 reviews269 followers
June 2, 2021
3.5 ☆
work is the last socially acceptable addiction

Prior to picking up Eat a Peach, I knew little about its author aside from the fact that Chang had a successful NYC restaurant that had been called out by Anthony Bourdain. Others may know him from his food- themed travel show.
...when it was more theory than restaurant, Momofuku was about carving out some form of identity for myself.
Work made me a different person. Work saved my life.

Recovering alcoholics talk about needing to hit rock bottom before they are able to climb out. The paradox for the workaholic is that rock bottom is the top of whatever profession they're in.

According to Chang, Eat a Peach is primarily about advice for the restaurant business, as he owns a dozen restaurants. While it did contain his post-game reflection and analysis, this had also been about the influence of his ethnic ancestry on his worldview. He affirmed what Cathy Park Hong, also Korean American, had described in her memoir, Minor Feelings.
I believe in han. There's no perfect English-language equivalent for this Korean emotion, but it's some combination of strife or unease, sadness, and resentment, born from the many historical injustices and indignities endured by our people. It's a term that came into use in the twentieth century after the Japanese occupation of Korea, and it describes this characteristic sorrow and bitterness that Koreans seem to possess wherever they are in the world. It is transmitted from generation to generation and defines much of the art, literature, and cinema that comes out of Korean culture.

The downside to the term tiger parenting entering the mainstream vocabulary is that it gives a cute name to what is actually a painful and demoralizing existence. ...Not all our parents are tiger parents, tiger parenting doesn’t always work, and not all Asian kids are good at school. In fact, not all Asian kids are any one thing. To be young and Asian in America often means fighting a multifront war against sameness.

Perhaps many don't regard food as more than fuel, but food has typically been the first gateway into different cultures. Food is more accessible than language or a plane ticket. Chang posed some insightful questions about the American culinary scene and revealed the underlying racial assumptions.
Cuisine has always evolved through collision, even if we don’t always notice.

I began to question the validity of various cultural truths. Who gets to assign value to certain foods? What makes something acceptable or not? Why was MSG villainized in Chinese restaurants but fine when it occurred naturally in Parmesan?

False cultural constructs tell us that pasta can be expensive, while noodles have to be cheap. The same dichotomy exists between almost any Asian (or African or Latin American) dish and its Western analogue. To me, there is literally no other explanation than racism. Don’t even try to talk to me about how the price differential is a result of service and decor. That shit is paid for by people who are willing to spend money on safe, “non-ethnic” food.

I could tell that race played a major role in America’s slow uptake on this concept, which only made it more personal for me.

I would have to say that my business-lesson takeaway is not to do what Chang had done in his early years. In particular, don't replicate all aspects of his company culture (https://www.eater.com/22193151/momofu...). He didn't have a clear-cut vision or strategy other than insights into the American food scene that came from his ethnic heritage. He did leverage his perspective with his extreme work habits, which didn't stem from a "model minority" ethos but from his mental health struggles.
All I ever wanted was to be normal, to think normal. I’m not a naturally loquacious person. I’m not outgoing or inclined to be a leader. I’m a wallflower. It’s been like that since I was a kid. For the majority of my life I was somewhere between ashamed and afraid of my Koreanness. I wanted not to be me, which is why drugs—both illicit and prescribed—appeal to me.

But if you've fought depression or know somebody who has, you know that no amount of money can fix it. No amount of fame. No logic. The continuing stigma around suicide and mental illness tells me that not enough people truly understand it. I don't really blame them---its impossible unless you've lived it.

And if you’re reading this book, hoping to glean some tidbits about the key to my success, know that you’re looking right at it. Depression and the choice to resist it are the only reasons you’re hearing from me now.

I don't know much about Chang's particular mental illness - bipolar disorder. I appreciate his level of frankness because I agree that the stigma surrounding mental illness must be broken in order to save people.

I didn't read Eat a Peach because I'm in this industry. After reading Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential, it was interesting to see how a certain type of personality is attracted to the culinary field. But I still found it a worthwhile read because of the different perspective Chang had given about "Asian Americans," the American culinary worldview, and on mental health.
Profile Image for Christina.
545 reviews200 followers
September 11, 2020
This is a fantastic memoir that is primarily about the creative spirit. David Chang is definitely an artist. I did not know much about him personally when I picked up this book, but I knew about and had been to his restaurant sensation Momofuku and was interested to learn about the man behind it. I got much more than I expected in this memoir which is honest and real and insightful into the human condition as well as food.

Just as the chef is known for his innovative and creative approaches towards food, the book itself is innovatively structured. In one chapter he crosses out his previous self-important thoughts about himself and replaces them with a more measured and insightful critique. In another he discusses some passionate conversations he had with Tony Bourdain. In others, he very frankly discusses his therapy, and the ways he failed to be a good person or reflect on his issues when he was away from his therapist. There's also a lot of really thoughtful discussion on racism and racist stereotypes, starting with an introduction discussing some covers that were tried and rejected by readers. The book is peppered with conversational footnotes, hilarious and personal staff emails, literary references, and all kinds of information that make you really feel like you have gotten to know everything about the writer - his soul laid bare. At the end of the book there are 33 Rules for Becoming a Chef. These are pretty wonderful -- very funny, very creative and very encouraging. Example: "All my favorite singers couldn't sing. Don't worry if you lack talent or skills. Tenacity is all you really need."

It's really refreshing to read a memoir by someone this successful who admits he was scared all the way through his success that he was on the edge of disaster. It's also impressive to read about the restaurant scene, the grueling work and the sometimes abusive atmosphere in a way that is not at all glamorized. I find a lot of restaurant memoirs tend to lionize the chefs who behave this way - and not only does Chang recognize it in himself but he has reached a point where he can fully appreciate the problems it caused. He also does an incredible job discussing his bipolar diagnosis and the ways it affects his life. You get a sense, reading the book, that for all the troubles and obstacles his mental health caused, his unique brain was also responsible for so many of his out-of-the box creative successes. This is a really empowering message and one that I think resonates with a lot of artists and creative types.

I just loved everything about this memoir, and this guy: his honesty, his tenacity, his creativity, his mind and his whole book, which is beautifully written. One of the best chef/foodie memoirs I have ever read, but it transcends that and, like all the best memoirs, ends up being just a fascinating story about a very interesting and talented human being. 5 stars.

Thanks to NetGalley, Penguin Random House and David Chang for the ARC of this fantastic book.
Profile Image for Lorna.
678 reviews367 followers
October 13, 2021
Eat A Peach was a memoir by renowned chef and owner of the Momofuku restaurant group in New York City, Toronto and Washington, DC. His restaurant Momofuku Ko was awarded two Michelin stars in 2009 that it has retained each year since. He resisted writing a memoir and for a long time he told himself the book was to be a guide for restauranteers as well as guidelines for people wanting to break into the food industry with their ultimate goal of being a chef. Although his publishing company prevailed as to the format of the book being a memoir, David Chang has some valuable guidelines for young people as far as education in a culinary school versus a state college and working in a restaurant in every position so as to know how a restaurant runs.

This is a delightful book for foodies and I enjoyed his views on all parts of the food industry and restaurants as well as his marketing expertise. There was a deep friendship that developed between the author and Anthony Bourdain over the years. It is in David Chang's beautiful words that one can see the brilliance of Bourdain.

"Tony never worked in the upper echelon of restaurants. That gave many of us in the industry reason to thumb our noses at him, but it's also exactly what made him remarkable. He was a lifelong line cook--the kind of guy who never aspires to climb the ladder of fancy restaurants. He represented the majority of cooks, and he wrote about our world with extraordinary intelligence and empathy."

"When he visited the French Laundry for 'A Cook's Tour,' the full weight of Tony's genius dawned on me. Maybe he couldn't keep up with a chef like Thomas Keller in the kitchen, but he understood what made Keller special and he masterfully communicated it to his audience. He was the guy you wanted to hang out because he was, first and foremost, a fan of food and restaurants. Many of the stories he championed in his writing and television shows were the ones that chefs care about: camraderie, honesty, creativity, and the Latin American cooks who prop up the whole business. The person who may have done the most to legitimize our profession was the one we originally didn't think had the chops."

As one who has a fascination for book covers, I was drawn to this dramatic cover and its art work and possible meaning of pushing a peach up a hill. David Chang alluded throughout the book to his many struggles and alluded to the comparison to the myth of Sisyphus as well as the meaning of the peach in his restaurants.

"Very early in the book, I mentioned that I consider the myth of Sisyphus to be an inspirational tale. It's an idea I obviously adapted from Camus. In the eyes of the gods, Sisyphus's endless task of pushing a boulder up a hill is a punishment. But by accepting his fate as unchangeable and continuing to do the task, Sisyphus can reject the gods' view of him and thus be happy."

O.K. so now I'm going to eat a peach!
Profile Image for Kay ☼.
1,965 reviews668 followers
November 29, 2020
First half 4 ⭐
Second half 2 ⭐

Eat a Peach is much more than just a memoir about food and celebrity chef David Chang. This is Chang's intimate account on mental health, drugs, suicide, family and many social issues. Anthony Bourdain. Covid- 19.
I didn't expect the book to take on such serious topics. Rather a little tedious and depressing in the second half.
Profile Image for Lorilin.
757 reviews241 followers
July 12, 2020
David Chang is the uber-successful head chef of many restaurants, including Momofuku, Ko, and Milk Bar. You’ve probably seen him on Netflix’s Ugly Delicious and Bravo’s Top Chef. Honestly, he’s everywhere—opening a restaurant or publishing a new cookbook like every other year. He’s a machine.

I was so excited to read his memoir, Eat a Peach. He strikes me as an intense, quiet, and interesting guy, so I was curious to know more of his story. This book isn’t what I expected it to be. In fact, it took me some time to fully process how I feel about it, but here goes.

First, the positive… I sailed through this one in no time. The book is written well and totally bingeable. Who wouldn’t love hearing all the crazy war stories from one of America’s top restauranteurs? Seriously, this guy has rubbed noses with the elite of the elite. Also, for anyone who is a chef or is considering becoming one, you’ll want to check out the “33 Rules for Being a Chef” at the back of the book. It’s one of the strongest sections by far.

So yes, lots to love. The weird thing, though, is how misled I felt when I finished reading. From the start, Chang talks about being an outcast as a child, a misfit. He describes going to therapy and struggling with depression his whole life. He sets his story up for the reader to think of him as an earnest, well-meaning, introspective “nice guy,” just doing the best he can. Even when he’s describing his rage fits and frustration in the kitchen, his all-consuming anger that is ever with him, the emphasis is on his internal struggle with feelings of unworthiness. And I’m sure that’s true—his anger probably IS fueled by his deep insecurities. But these justifications also start feeling like copouts real quick. David Chang doesn’t strike me as an especially happy person, but I think David Chang is still pretty happy with David Chang.

I’m going to assume that Chang is not being intentionally dense. I think he’s probably just a tormented soul, who oscillates between rage and despair, but has enough self-awareness to (sometimes) recognize when he’s hurt another person’s feelings. I think Chang’s main problem is that he feels justified in his rage and so doesn’t feel strongly that he needs to change (which kind of feels, uh, abusive?). I actually loved the chapter on Chang’s time spent with an executive coach who calls him out on exactly this. (And to Chang’s credit, he did choose to include this in his book, when he could have easily not.)

“You have to eat the shit,” he repeated over and over during one of our first sessions. He had the tone and zeal of a boxing trainer. “Shit tastes good!”

“What does that even mean?” I chuckled.

“Don’t laugh,” he said sternly. Marshall told me that my job wasn’t to cook food. It wasn’t about looking at numbers or commanding people, either. My company would live or die based on my capacity to eat shit and like it. “I am going to watch you eat as many bowls of shit as our time will allow,” he said. We had plenty of time.

Eating shit meant listening. Eating shit meant acknowledging my errors and shortcomings. Eating shit meant facing confrontations that made me uncomfortable. Eating shit meant putting my cell phone away when someone was talking to me. Eating shit meant not fleeing. Eating shit meant being grateful. Eating shit meant controlling myself when people fell short of expectations. Eating shit meant putting others before myself.

This last detail was important. With Dr. Eliot, I got away with describing my MO as self-destructive—my managerial tendencies were harmful, but only to me. Now, according to Marshall, I was using that assessment as cover for my poor behavior. In my mind, all the people who had left Momofuku were leaving me. When they failed at their jobs, they were betraying me. Marshall pointed out the ugly truth that this belied. I believed that the people at Momofuku were there to serve me.

On the one hand, Chang is strong enough and determined enough to never lower his expectations. Which good for him, right? But that’s a luxury, too. It’s a privilege to never have to settle in life, to never have to put someone else’s needs before your own—even if you feel depressed about it afterward. And you especially don’t get to have it both ways. If you’re a dick, be a dick…but don’t try to make me think you’re a good guy at the same time. Anyway, it will be really interesting to see what being a parent does to him. I’d love to read his next memoir, ten years from now—or better yet, his son Hugo’s memoir twenty years from now. What a fascinating story that will be.

Big thanks to Net Galley for the ARC!
Profile Image for Kasa Cotugno.
2,352 reviews454 followers
December 2, 2020
In his own voice, David Chang presents his candid memoir, warts and all. Although he seems to be able to meet new challenges and do well, he has struggled with extreme self doubt all his life, experiencing racism from a very young age. Also, although he came from a loving home, his father's strictness resulted in some very questionable choices which have haunted Chang to this day. But he is talented, meeting challenges and turning away from accomplishments such as excelling at golf at a young age. His experience as a Michelin-award winning chef garnering him a large following as a restaurant owner has not come easy, and he is honest in presenting his own hot tempered personality and acknowledges that he has not made working for him easy. But those who have the luck to gain employment from him and prove they are worthy, will find someone who gives as good as he gets.
Profile Image for Traci Thomas.
542 reviews9,825 followers
October 31, 2020
This is a really good celeb memoir and an excellent chef memoir. Chang does a good job with talking food insight and giving us a glimpse at his approach and thinking. He calls out his own short comings on #metoo and talks about racism in food. Overall very good. He does shy away from getting too deep on some topics though.
Profile Image for Vanessa.
462 reviews291 followers
January 14, 2021
I didn’t realise how much David Chang’s experiences with depression formulated and fueled his many successes in the culinary world. It seemed in order to channel his dark thoughts he threw everything and anything into creating a new concept restaurant experimenting with fusion before it was a culturally popular thing. I guess his thinking was he had literally nothing to lose, if death isn’t the worst thing then failure isn’t going to deter him either.

This book offers a reflection on his rise and fame as a “celebrity chef” none of it sounds like it was an easy ride if anything he gives a strong warning against a career in the kitchen. Everyone knows the hard work, grit and determination that goes into the restaurant business and there really is no sugar coating the effort needed. A lot of mistakes and failures have to happen along the way before reaching any level of success. Maintaining a successful chain of restaurants around the world is a continual cycle of reinvention so the hard work never really goes away if anything it only increases, the stakes just become higher. It’s not all negative talk from David he offers plenty of practical advice for aspiring chefs as well. David is extremely upfront about battling his depression and suicidal thoughts so a lot of this book does discuss his battles in detail, it’s a real testament of his character and will how he managed to turn his extremely dark and negative thinking and channel it into a creative energy that has turned into a successful career he can be proud of.
Profile Image for Wendy'sThoughts.
2,650 reviews3,234 followers
October 22, 2021
UPDATE-October 21, 2021
David Chang has a fascinating series out about the advancement of AI and Food on Hulu, The Next Thing You Eat. It is the look of delivery and how this is impacting everything. Worth the time if you have any interest in the food industry.
4 Revealing Stars (2020)
* * * * Spoiler Free- A Quick Review
If you have any interest in food, then you know of David Chang. His impact on the industry is huge. He has given many of the Named Chefs or Food People their start. His story is not the one line of this happened and then the success. It is layered and revealing to someone so talented who has had a hard journey and is still dealing with his concerns.

I am sincerely pleased to have read this, seen what Chang has experienced, and appreciated all he has accomplished and shared.

~~~~~ Before Reading ~~~~~
There Are Some Major Food Icons...
People The Lay Person...
Even Knows About...

David Chang Is One Of Those Wonders...
He Has Singlehanded...
Changed The Industry...

He Has Been An Inspiration...
To So Many...
He Has Helped Others...
In Their Quest...

Now He Shares...
More Than The Norm...
He Takes Us On His Journey...

I Am Ready To Dive Right In...
And Do Whatever He Asks...
Even If It Is To...

Eat a Peach-September 8, 2020

A gifted copy was provided by author/publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.

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Profile Image for Matt Quann.
628 reviews383 followers
January 14, 2021
I'm a massive fan of high-quality food TV. Chef's Table? Can't get enough of it. But my first introduction to David Chang came from PBS's Mind of a Chef series and I was pretty instantaneously taken with the prickly chef. For those not in the know, Chang is a James Beard Award-winning chef who straddles the line between avant-garde modernist cooking and punk cooking icon. He's famously outspoken, opinionated, and capable of crafting some dishes that look extremely tasty without being too stuffy.

I got his new memoir, Eat a Peach, for Christmas and knew I'd wanted to get to it almost right away. In my mind, a really good memoir sees the author capturing their signature voice on the page as they peel back layers of their story that were heretofore unknown. So, right off the bat: this book is David Chang. Yes, Gabe Ulla is added to the byline which adds a certain, "How much of this is Chang?" Nonetheless, I think any fan of his will be instantly familiar with his brand of abrasive yet warmhearted cooking opinions.

What doesn't work so well is the book's structure. It begins with a linear plotting of Chang's ascent to the hallowed halls of celebrity chefdom, and for the most part this works well. The new lens applied to a story I'd heard piecemeal from different shows was that Chang has Bipolar Disorder. This helps him and the reader place into context some of his outbursts and strange behaviour that's been documented previously.

Where the book falls apart is in it's second leg. Chang uses these disjointed chapters to address various personal, societal, and restaurant shortcomings that land with surprising irregularity. For instance, the "edited" chapter is one of the most effective in the jumble of the book's second half and shows Chang's perceived growth through therapy. Conversely, the #MeToo chapter seems like an add-on to address a hot topic issue, but it doesn't really say anything of substance other than more women should be celebrated chefs. I agree with the sentiment, but this chapter along with some others seem out of place in the memoir and make the whole read feel uneven.

Even though the book could have used more focus, some overarching themes, and a more heavy-handed editor, I enjoyed Chang's memoir. It was neat to get a look into his creative process (NOTE: I'd never work for the man) and see how he carved out success when the world seemed entirely against him. But by the book's end, I kind of wished for another season of Ugly Delicious instead of this memoir.
Profile Image for Stewart Tame.
2,303 reviews89 followers
April 4, 2020
Disclaimer: I won a free ARC of this book in a Goodreads giveaway.

Chang’s name wasn't immediately familiar to me, but I’ve read enough chef memoirs and watched enough Food Network to recognize his flagship restaurant, Momofuku Noodle Bar. David Chang is a chef, with multiple successful restaurants to his name. Eat A Peach tells the story of how he did it. Not that he necessarily gives away any closely guarded secrets, mind you. Yes, hard work and determination were factors, but Chang readily admits to a fair amount of luck as well, and seems as much mystified by his success as he is proud of it.

One of the things that struck me about this book was the tone. Throughout his life, Chang has battled manic depression, and had problems with his temper. He readily admits to past mistakes, but doesn't wallow in them. The impression is of someone who owns his past, but refuses to let it define his present. He’ll do better, and you know he will.

I can think of no better summary of this book than Chang’s own concluding sentences (yes, since this is an ARC, there's a possibility that this quote may be altered or nonexistent in the published version. If so, then the editor is clearly an idiot, because it's a great quote. I’ll chance it.):

“Right now, at age forty-two, I feel certain that I know all the answers to this business. But if I'm living the way I should, then hopefully I'll think back on this time and be embarrassed by how shortsighted and foolish I was. I'm expecting to open this book in ten years and cringe like I’m staring at a picture of myself with a bad haircut. I’m looking forward to it.”

Highly recommended!
Profile Image for Mbgirl.
244 reviews8 followers
January 29, 2021
The Bourdain portions slayed me. Couldn’t keep it together...

Also, his upbringing and his father’s rigidity (poor femur)... in fact, the rigidity because of the Christian household. I, though not Korean, became a Christian through a Korean church in my hometown. I completely get how churches can be so legalistic and devoid of love (thinking of the Puritans in Hawthorne’s SLetter).

Highlights of the book: the awesome friends/chef he has, having gotten to sit next to Dr Farmer’s other half Partners in Health founder, Dr Kim (Muscatine, Iowa!!). Sitting next to RBG and being schooled by Jill Biden that she was “Madame”.

The Japan parts were so awfully and torturously lonely... reading Tolstoy and Dostoevsky amidst a society who excels in suicide and duality!!! Even having lived at the homeless shelter... Oh my (btw, the head nod to affordable Pappy Bourbon those days totally coincided with my Potlikker book, which details how the Van Winkle family started!)

And for alllllll the foooodie bits— love.

I believed Dave in what he disclosed. He was honest and brave for spilling it. But for all the underdog successes, for everything, character matters more than anything else... mental health notwithstanding.

His Dad succumbed to bile duct ca— after liver cancer. And his mom survived, breast, bone, brain cancer?!? Hugo is a doll—- welcome to the west coast, and congrats on getting the 1891 electricity in WH Pres Harrison and winning $1MM for your charity, first celeb ever to get it.

Let it go, Dave.... learn a bit more of the freeing concept that is your better half’s namesake!

PS Fuku: #dericious!
Profile Image for Susan Rainwater.
98 reviews
September 22, 2020
I wasn't in love with this book, but the chapter entitled "33 Rules for Becoming a Chef" should be required reading for every high school and college student. It applies broadly to anyone embarking on an education or a career.
Profile Image for Toni.
642 reviews203 followers
September 8, 2020
Today is Pub Day: Sept. 8, 2020
This is not your typical chef memoir. Read this!

David Chang is a complex individual as well as multitalented. He probably has as many enemies as he does friends, which is not intentional; it is a byproduct of his brain. While a part of him is creative, visionary, almost ‘out-of-the-box; no, out-of-the-universe, creative; another part of him boils, simmers, like a volcano at 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, raging and fighting against itself. The only way he can get the two sides to call a truce is to work. Work, like workaholic work. Like do not stop work. Maybe open two, or ten restaurants, everywhere, whatever. He. Cannot. Stop.

David Chang is the well-know Chef that opened the restaurant, Momofuku, famous for its distinct ramen dishes and pork buns, in New York City, and several others around the country and the world. You may have seen him on his TV shows on Netflix, “Ugly Delicious” and “Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.” He is always smiling.

David was born in Vienna, VA to Korean immigrant parents who arrived here in the 1960’s. He grew up in the Alexandria area with three siblings, went to good schools and had a successful junior golfing career until he started really growing at age twelve. Although always competitive he could not deny his Korean heritage in his largely white community. As with most adolescents, you’d rather fit in, than stand out.

Although David is extraordinarily successful, he battles depression and bipolar disorder. He hates that, ‘his calling card is rage.’ He has been working hard with his Doctor to understand his type of mental illness and various ways to treat it. There is not one medicine or antidepressant that works for everyone, and trying different meds involves time, weeks usually, for effectiveness, then if not, weaning off. Therapy is always combined with the medications. It is always a work in progress, probably forever.

This memoir, which David hates to call it, was an eye-opener for me. I am a huge fan of David Chang, but I did not realize his suffering with mental illness was so intense. I am pleased someone so talented has found a doctor he can work with to help guide him to understand how his brain works with him, and sometimes against him.

I recommend this book to all his fans, and especially to his foes.

Thank you NetGalley, Penguin Random House, and David Chang

Now listening to the audio! 9/8/20
Profile Image for Danielle.
62 reviews
May 24, 2020
(Review copy, courtesy of my very dope job)
It's unclear why, but I was expecting this to be more amusing, and honestly, more anecdotal. It felt more like a screed on how success is complicated. Which...ok?
Profile Image for Ms.pegasus.
702 reviews137 followers
April 6, 2021
Visualize that yin/yang symbol ( the taegeuk) on the South Korean flag. Now visualize it as a three-dimensional form that breathes. Replacing that signifier of harmony is an explosive battle of competing tensions. That is how I imagine the mind of David Chang.

Tension permeated his childhood. He was embarrassed by the smells of Korean cookery in his house and gravitated to snacks like chicken fingers and mozarella sticks. His assessment of his demanding father is pointed: “Dad was the archetype of a certain Korean man who remains completely foreign to non-Asian America. Yes, they scold and punish us for poor grades and the slightest misbehavior, but it's not tough love. It is love that feels distinctly conditional. The downside to the term tiger parenting entering the mainstream vocabulary is that it gives a cute name to what is actually a painful and demoralizing existence.” (p.4) Yet he credits for his success the fierce need to survive that pain: “If he'd been the father I wanted him to be, I wouldn't be the man I am.” (p.260) These are careful considerations as he strives to be a better father to his own son Hugo.

Chang is bipolar. His oscillation between maniacal optimism and self-flagellation felt normal. Why did he seem to be the only one lurching toward self-destruction at every sign of success? he wondered. A relentless work ethic became a way of distracting himself from his inability to modulate swings between hubris and self-destruction into a balance between ambition and humility. It blinded him to the damage he inflicted on his staff.

Nothing about his career was conventional. Although he landed a position at Café Boulud, a Michelin starred restaurant, he came to question the elaborate preparations and haute cuisine trappings. He evolved from wanting something different to wanting something disruptive. The New York Times article cited below outlines the restaurant scene more fully than he does when he opened
Momofuku in 2004. The concept was an innovative gamble. Quality ingredients meticulously prepared but reasonably priced, served in a bare bones, relaxed setting. His inspiration was the ramen shops of Tokyo.

His next vision was a menu created from an eclectic mix of ingredients and techniques designed to expand the diner's palate. He contrasts his idea to “fusion,” the use of Western or Asian “accents” which still adhered to the diner's comfort zone.

The memoir tracks his surprising capacity for personal growth. He had always rejected the classic French “chain-of-command” model in the kitchen. Yet, his "egalitarian" model as executed by him was possibly worse. Marshall Goldsmith, his executive coach, conducts confidential interviews with his staff. Goldsmith doesn't sugar-coat his findings. “ '[I]t's incredible to us that so many people have stayed by your side for so long when they can't stand you.'” (p.183) Chang is appalled and throws himself into Goldsmith's makeover program.

Chang calls out the cumulative acts of racism he has encountered throughout his life. These experiences sensitized him to unconscious assumptions about “Asians.” (One amusing example was the problem he had with a New York City functionary who gave him grief over the name Momofuku. The bureaucrat assumed it was Momo-fuk-U).

Pervasive misogyny in the restaurant industry also claims thoughtful consideration. He candidly confesses his own transition from “So what?” to "OMG" and devotes an entire chapter (“Blind Spots”) to the problem.

I chose this book after listening to the author being interviewed on the podcast “Smartless” by Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, and Will Arnett. He is engaging, witty and balanced in the podcast. The memoir is an eye-opening view of how much he has struggled to get to that point.


Chang admits to occasions of blinding fury. Here, David Chang is viewed from the perspective of a former employee: https://www.eater.com/22193151/momofu...
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