After a Tweet last year from Aziz Ansari, GQ decided to send comedian Ansari, Momofuku empire chef David Chang, and LCD Soundsystemer James Murphy to Tokyo. This is their story. Whole thing is worth a read.
The meal demanded a nap. Then it was off to Bar High Five, owned by Hidetsugu Ueno, who has become the foremost ambassador of the Japanese cocktail movement. Stepping into the closet-sized space on the fourth floor of a building in Ginza, the ritzy shopping district, was like arriving on an advanced planet whose sole sacred text was a 1960s American bar manualâ€”like stepping at once back and forward in time. Ueno wore a magnificent pompadour and worked from strange bottles of the kind you see gathering dust under American barsâ€”sloe gin and blended whiskeys and odd liqueurs. His technique was astonishing: When he poured, it was in a thin stream from high above the golden wood bar, somehow perfectly filling each glass to just its meniscus point.
In a blurb about the new Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook, this description of the difference between David Chang and his dessert chef Christina Tosi:
In the Momofuku kitchens, where chefs are hospitalized for anxiety-related skin diseases, Tosi is calm. Tosi doesnâ€™t yell. There is no need. She is Samantha from â€œBewitchedâ€â€”she is all serenity, because she knows that things will work out fine in the end. If someone screws up in a Dave Chang kitchen, Chang will scream and rage and tell the person he has no integrity and might as well be working at KFC; then he will have to lie down for a day to recover. One imagines that if anyone ever screwed up in a Christina Tosi kitchen, she would wiggle her nose and, with a magic ping, that person would simply disappear.
Also, Chang bought her 240 Take 5 candy bars for her birthday and challenged her to eat them in a month.
El Bulli is closing on Sunday right around the time that a new documentary, Cooking in Progress, about the famed restaurant is coming out. Along with the movie, there are a bunch of interesting links out there the last couple days.
*The NY Times reviewed it here.
*With the closing, the media has flocked and told us about it. This article is indicative of the “My Meall at El Bulli” genre.
*Earlier in the month, Mark Bittman wrote about cooking with Ferran Adria.
*An interview with Cooking in Progress maker, Gereon Wetzel.
*From several months ago, but still interesting, the NYTimes talks to several chefs about Adria’s legacy. David Chang:
The fact is, he moved the entire spectrum of food in every direction, so that as a chef, even if you donâ€™t like his style, he redefined everything you do. Closing down for half the year to do research? Changing the entire menu, 50 new dishes, every year? Amazing.
*Xanthe Clay calls Adria, “the genius that inspired a thousand restaurant disasters“.
*And an interview in GQ talking about ‘The Best Chef in the World’:
That title doesn’t exist. That person doesn’t exist. Certainly when one is talking about the best chef in the world, one is referring to the influence that person has had in the field. If you have a lot of influence, then you’re one of the best. That individual doesn’t exist, and after all I don’t work to be the best, I work to enjoy life. The consequence of that is that you’re recognized for your work. I like to be recognized, but I don’t work for recognition.
Trailer above via Kottke.
*A GQ interview with David Chang where he talks about plans to expand to Sydney and Toronto in 2012.
I was there last year and just fell in love with Australiaâ€”holy shit, the produce, the proteins, the fish. This place is insane. Why wouldn’t you want to open a restaurant out here? We’re going to try to use only Australian ingredients, with the exception of some fermented products from Japan and some wines from France.
*What Malcolm Gladwell reads.
Since my brain really only works in the morning, I try to keep that time free for writing and thinking and don’t read any media at all until lunchtime, when I treat myself to The New York Times–the paper edition. At this point, I realize, I am almost a full 24 hours behind the news cycle. Is this is a problem? I have no idea. My brother, who is a teacher, always says that we place too much emphasis on the speed of knowledge acquistion, and not the quality of knowledge acquistion: I guess that means that the fact that I am still on Monday, when everyone else is on Tuesday, is okay.