David Chang on Guts at MAD3
For David Chang, the best ideas are often the ones people think you’re stupid for pursuing. To welcome the crowd at MAD3 over the summer, and introduce the symposium’s theme of guts, the chef provided an off-the-cuff reflection on what courage means to him.
"When cooks come up to me and my colleagues and ask how we became successful," says Chang, "my answer is that we took an idea and were unwavering in following it through." He gave as an example Momofuku Noodle Bar, his first restaurant, which opened in 2004. "It was a place that never should have existed," he says. He had no cash or support system, but he believed in the concept so much that he was prepared to be ridiculed for it, and to ultimately fail. "I’ve never thought I was the most talented," he says, "but I’ve been stupid enough to make stupid decisions."
His point is that young cooks — or entrepreneurs in any field — should embrace their ideas, and the likelihood of failure. At the very least, you can make sure you fail on your own terms.
To get into that mentality, Chang describes how you should try to get a grasp of the relative insignificance of your situation. In the years leading up to Momofuku, for example, 9/11 happened and several of Chang’s friends passed away. Trying to launch a restaurant, no matter what the odds, wasn’t a life or death situation.
You just need to make the leap and never look back.