David Chang’s memoir: “A reminder of where you came from. A reminder to be grateful.”

From a New York Times Inside the List story by Elisabeth Egan about chef David Chang:

In 2004, the chef David Chang put himself on the culinary map when he opened his first restaurant, Momofuku Noodle Bar, in Manhattan’s East Village. . . .

Since then, Chang has expanded his empire to include multiple eateries, a podcast, two Netflix shows — and now a memoir, “Eat a Peach,” which rolled onto this week’s hardcover nonfiction list at No. 15. His tale of finding his way in the restaurant world while struggling with bipolar disorder is the literary equivalent of slurping hot broth at a communal table. Full of humor and honesty, it provides nourishment and a sense of solidarity.

However, for three years after he signed a book contract, Chang thought he was going to write about business strategy or philosophy. He is clearly a deep thinker and a reader; in a 20-minute phone conversation, he mentioned Albert Camus’s “The Myth of Sisyphus” — he remembers reading it as a teenager at the library in Tysons Corner, Va., where he grew up — and T. S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” which inspired the title “Eat a Peach”. . . .

Chang says he knew he needed to shift gears after the 2018 death of his friend, fellow chef and author Anthony Bourdain. “That’s when I was more open and accepting that the book was a memoir and that hopefully it would be useful for people,” he explains. . . .To paraphrase Mark Twain, if you just tell the truth, you don’t have to keep track of anything else. It’s just easier.”

As he shaped the story of his life, Chang had three “buckets” in mind: “One was Asian-American identity, two was mental illness and three was the massive change that has happened in the culinary world over 20 years.” He was “writing for the future version of me and maybe my younger self. Almost like a tattoo — a reminder of where you came from, the good and the bad. A reminder to be grateful. To say, don’t be so hard on yourself. If I can get here, as fallible and neurotic as I am, anyone can. For anyone who believes there are no options available to them, I beg to differ. There’s always hope.”

Elisabeth Egan is an editor at the Book Review and the author of “A Window Opens.”

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