Maybe David Chang was inspired to go into the pork business by fat men in snouts.
It's unlikely, but not out of the question. Between the burgeoning global restaurant empire,the publishing spot, the Treme bit, and the sidekick gig, Chang still finds time to keep tabs on the sports landscape. We spoke to him just before Jeremy Lin blew up, not far from his Mother Peach. As usual, Chang was way ahead of the curve on this one.
Patrick Sauer: Until recently, your Twitter avatar was Wes Unseld. Are you a big Wizards fan?
David Chang: To me, they will always be the Bullets and Wes Unseld is the Bullets. He was retired by the time I started watching, but he was always part of the organization and I always liked him. He’s the only link to their championship year, and arguably the best Bullet ever. He was playing center at 6’7” and just relentless. Everyone talks about Kevin Love’s full-court chest passes, but Wes was first. He was an animal, and the Afro, you can’t beat it. 1978, that was our last championship and we haven’t done a damn thing since.
Patrick Sauer: Is it easy to follow sports spending all yours days and nights in restaurants?
Chang: Once you start working in the kitchen, no matter what you do, you never get to watch games. TV just isn’t a part of your life anymore. Eventually, you even stop watching football. I play fantasy, but that’s more to keep in touch with friends. I read more about sports than watch them. It’s a pleasant distraction late at night or early in the morning. The only time I see games is in person. I follow the Redskins, but it’s different because a lot of it is just checking the score. It’s not like the old days when my week was ruined if the Skins lost. But then, we’ve also sucked for fifteen years.
Sauer: Across cultures and backgrounds, sports can be a universal language. Is that true in the kitchen?
Chang: Sports are one of the few things I think I understand, and I will use as many analogies as possible. Anything that helps me understand what the hell is going on in the cooking world.
Sauer: Is there any sport in particular that dominates kitchen conversation?
Chang: New York restaurant world is an immigrant population, so it’s always fun when the guys go apeshit during the World Cup. There is a lot of pride for their home country soccer teams. It’s funny though, when I get to do things like Cook It Raw, or just meet up with chef friends from around the world, I’m the one who has no idea what the fuck they’re talking about. I hang out with Albert Adria and all he wants to talk about is Barca. He only cares about the Barcelona football club. Nothing else matters.
Sauer: And what about when you’re out with local chefs like Anthony Bourdain or Wylie Dufresne?