“Being a great chef and being a great cook are completely two different things.”
Question: What makes a great chef?
David Chang: Wow. I think a great chef is somebody that inspires his team and continues to push the envelope cooking wise while maintaining the integrity of the culinary tradition that came before him or her.
Question: How is that different from a great cook?
David Chang: Being a great chef and being a great cook are completely two different things. A cook sometimes is a better cook than the chef. The chef ,you want to be the best in the kitchen at everything, and traditionally that’s the case.
But there comes a point where the chef is sort of removed from cooking on a day-to-day basis sometimes, and a great cook doesn’t always translate to being a great chef. I think that’s the thing.
For whatever reason, you need the intangibles now. It’s a lot more difficult now, I think, to be a chef because of the media pressures, working the PR, knowing what to say, managing people again, running a restaurant, finances.
There’s so many things involved now that it wasn’t before. None of these. You didn’t need these traits, to be a great chef, say, 20 years ago. And now you need to have an assortment of skills and wear many hats, and sometimes it’s really difficult.