At the risk of doing a Mia Freedman – the magazine columnist and television show presenter who angered a sizeable chunk of the nation when she questioned why sports people are lauded as super heroes while surgeons, medical researchers and artists are rarely recognised for their contributions to society – I’m just going to come out and say it. Why has Sydney gone gaga over David Chang?
Much of city’s foodie fraternity is fawning over the New York fly-in like a group of schoolgirls lusting over the latest teen-bopper boy band.
Chang has just opened Momofuku Seiōbo at The Star (Sydney’s redeveloped casino) – the first destination outside of the US to score an offshoot of his Momofuku restaurant group. The gastronomic hotshot has had more local press than his customers have had pork buns – a Momofuku signature dish. Sydney-based food editors, writers and bloggers couldn’t seem to get enough of the Chang before he’d even opened the doors at his Sydney venue. He received the kind of pre-opening press that PR handlers have wet dreams about. It’s like one big sugar rush – a bit sickly, to be frank.
Admittedly, i haven’t eaten at Momofuku Seiōbo, yet. And some people might say for that reason i don’t know what the fuss is all about. But it’s why we have to make such a fuss in the first place, that i’m questioning.
It’s not that I don’t admire Chang’s achievements, or appreciate what a culinary catch he is for Sydney. He nabbed a spot on the 2010 list of the Times 100 most influential people, and has earned two Michelin stars, after all. By bringing his unique Asian-American cooking style to Sydney, Chang has widened the trough, too. Diners, at least those who are prepared to fork out $175 a head and forfeit their money if they cancel within 24 hours, have a bigger – and perhaps more exciting – smorgasbord to nibble from.
He’ll probably inspire some teenagers to enrol in TAFE and study the culinary arts, and goodness knows the industry needs a bit of a kick along. I may not have eaten at Momofuku Seiōbo, yet, but I’m pretty sure that if I head to there – and it’s on my never-ending list of places to try – it will be a memorable experience. It may even blow my mind. But get off your knees people, please. The collective kowtowing is cringe-worthy.
I don’t know if Chang loves it or loathes it. Either way, it’s part and parcel of the celebrity chef circuit, so I guess we’ve all got to put up with it. But chefs – though I love to devour your good work, will readily recommend your best restaurants to friends, and admire your exceptional skills – I will save my adoration for the scientists and their medical breakthroughs, the doctors and surgeons who take our health into their hands and improve it, and the selfless souls who devote their lives to helping others less fortunate than themselves.