David Chang on how to save the restaurant industry

David Chang is a small-business-turned-empire success story. His recent book Eat a Peach: A Memoir did not start out as a memoir. Chang had planned to write a book about business strategy, but events over the last few years – including Anthony Bourdain’s suicide – compelled him to move the book in a different direction. Chang recently sat down with Business Insider to discuss his new book and his thoughts on how to save restaurants during Covid-19.

The book’s genesis was the story of how Momofuku grew from a single small restaurant to a global phenomenon with 15 far-flung locations. Chang told BI that while he would likely have touched on struggles with depression and bipolar disorder in the book, he does not believe he “would have done it so openly or willingly without Tony [Bourdain]’s death. From then on I was like, I’m not going to hide. I can use this as an opportunity to be more open about it, to de-stigmatize it.”

The interview also discusses how the pandemic has negatively affected the restaurant industry. When asked if he thought young chefs would have to find a different path than the one that worked for him, Chang said “Well, we all have to pivot. We can’t do what we did before, because what we were doing before wasn’t working that well. A lot of chefs are asking themselves very serious questions, because they signed up to express themselves through food in a way that’s no longer possible.” He notes that at Momofuku, they had already planned to expand outside of the four walls of the restaurant through consumer packaged goods and that this was accelerated by the pandemic. But no matter what, Chang says “there’s no going back to the way things were. We need to be open to anything and everything.”

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