From the producers of ANTHONY BOURDAIN: NO RESERVATIONS comes a smart, quirky new series that combines travel, cooking, history, science, and humour in an unforgettable journey. Join executive producer and narrator Anthony Bourdain as he takes you – over the course of 16 half-hour episodes – inside the mind of creative Korean-American chef, restaurateur, and author David Chang in THE MIND OF A CHEF premiering every Wednesday on TLC beginning September 11 at 9:00 p.m. Encores every Monday at 8:00 p.m., Saturday at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., and Sunday at 6:00 p.m.
As one of the most heralded chefs, not only in America, but in the world, wunderkind Chang has been known for pushing the envelope. Hailed by Time Magazine as one of the world’s “100 Most Influential People,” he is the creative force behind the celebrated Momofuku group of restaurants. From conception, preparation, and ultimately presentation, Chang’s voracious appetite for knowledge and innovation, as far as food goes, is what makes him the consummate professional. THE MIND OF A CHEF invites you to step into the unique, food-centric world of Chang, as he takes on everything – from ramen to rotting bananas, pork buns to golf clubs, and Copenhagen to Kansas City – with unbridled passion.
“THE MIND OF A CHEF is a reinvention of a travel-cooking show,” says Bourdain. “This season we go inside the kitchen, the world, and the mind of Chef David Chang. This show is a chance to explore that mind in all its tangled glory.”
Kitchen maestro David Chang brings youthful exuberance to cooking and travel, be it in his kitchens in New York, Toronto, and Australia, or travelling for inspiration to Japan, Denmark, and Spain. His journey begins in the first episode with ramen, the Japanese noodle dish on which Chang built his reputation, turning his Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York’s East Village into his gastronomic empire today. Chang dissects the roots of his passion for ramen dishes and tsukemen (dipping noodles) on a trip to Japan. Along the way, learn the history of this famous noodle as David visits a ramen factory, has a bowl of the original tsukemen, and examines how alkalinity makes noodles chewier and less prone to dissolving in broth.
Other season highlights include travelling to Montreal with comedian Aziz Ansari of Parks and Recreation, visiting one of the world’s top chefs, Rene Redzepi, and going on a BBQ tour of Texas, North Carolina and Kansas City, Missouri.
Follow the brilliant David Chang around the world as he travels, exploring the creative process and story behind different dishes. THE MIND OF A CHEF provides an insider’s view of food culture in a fun, informative way that both food enthusiasts and food nerds alike will appreciate, and presents as comprehensive a picture of David Chang as you’re likely to ever see, getting into the dynamics of how he thinks and what inspires and intrigues him. Thoroughly intellectual, THE MIND OF A CHEF is an experience that unlocks the melding of food, travel, and the mind in the following episodes:
In the series premiere, Chang shares childhood memories of ramen and cooks two incredible versions of Western pasta dishes – cacao e pepe and gnocchi – using instant ramen. He takes a trip to Japan for a bowl of the original tsukemen and eats the best bowl of ramen in his life at ramen legend Kazuo Yamagishi’s restaurant. Chang also visits a noodle factory and food scientist Harold McGee (author of kitchen classic On Food and Cooking) explains how alkaline salts make ramen noodles unique.
This episode explores Chang’s relationship to the pig and the sublime pleasures of pork. He travels to San Sebastian to discuss pork bushi. He makes pork belly and tonkotsu, and heads to Montreal with his pal, comedian Aziz Ansari, for Wilensky’s famous fried bologna sandwiches. In the kitchen, Chang makes a “red-eye mayo,” while his pastry chef demonstrates how to make a salty sugary late night snack – the corn cookie ham and cheese.
Chang takes a trip down memory lane in this episode, revisiting the places and events that led him to where he is today. In Japan, he stops at a ramen shop in Japan where he ate while apprenticing at a restaurant in Tokyo. He also visits the Callaway Golf factory where, for the first time in 14 years since he threw his clubs off a cliff, he hits a golf ball. In the kitchen, Chang prepares a cold Korean soup, naeng myung, that his mother prepared for him and his father when they went golfing.
This episode focuses on Spain’s influence on Chang’s career. He visits some of his idols Juan Mari Arzak and Andoni Aduri. The legendary Ferran Adria (from El Bulli) talks about the current state of cuisine. Chang makes fideos, salt cod omelette, and in honour of Adria, cooks a microwave sponge cake.
There’s something rotten in David Chang’s kitchen, but that’s a good thing. Chang shows us how rotten is delicious: katsuibushi in Japan, XO sauce, and kimchi. His pastry chef Christina Tosi also makes a delectable banana cream pie with rotten bananas. Also on this episode, Rene Redzepi cooks a “garbage plate” using potatoes left in the ground months longer than what is considered “fresh”.
Chang hangs out with one of his best friends, Danish chef Rene Redzepi, who just happens to be the world’s top chef. Redzepi is a co-owner of the two-Michelin star restaurant Noma in the Christianshavn neighbourhood of Copenhagen, Denmark, voted the best restaurant in the world three times. In 2012, Redzepi joined Chang on Time’s “100 Most Influential People” list and placed Copenhagen on the global map of gastronomy and the apex of the culinary world. Chang accompanies Redzepi as he forages in tall grass by the seaside, and watches him assemble salad from green strawberries, scallops, pea juice and “plants”.
Dishes in this episode are deceivingly simple; the freshness of the ingredients and the admonition to “leave the flavour alone” take precedence over complex cooking techniques. Chang spends time with a sushi master in Tokyo and a yakitori chef who has been grilling chicken for 30 years. In the kitchen, Chang prepares a simple chicken noodle soup, and his pal Daniel Patterson makes beets.
Get ready for gluttonous goodness: it’s over the top indulgence with top Canadian restaurant Joe Beef chefs Federic Morin and David McMillian’s rich sandwich (essentially slices of bacon between two pieces of deep fried foie gras), a bourbon factory tour and mayhem with Chef Sean Brock at Buffalo Trace in Kentucky, as well as the classic dish “Hot Brown” served up three ways.
Watch four top chefs take on one of the most humble ingredients – the egg. How a cook handles eggs has always been a test of sorts. Chang and a few of his chef pals come together to discuss technique and philosophy while preparing their egg dishes. Wylie Dufresne makes his egg benedict and carrot-coconut sunny-side egg; Chang makes his signature Momofuku Ko egg, puffed egg and Passard egg; Daniel Patterson shows us how to make his “whirlpool egg”. Chang also attempts to cook a gull egg, something he’s never worked with before.
For Chang, Japan is the centre of his culinary universe. Every time he visits, he discovers a new technique or style that changes how he does things at his own restaurant. Chang travels Tokyo and Kyoto to meet and eat with friends – both old and new – and explore the different ingredients and culinary techniques of the eastern world. He visits a street market in Tokyo, a fish auction at Kyoto’s Nishiki market, and sees a fortune teller. He finishes the trip at three Michelin-star restaurant, Kikunoi, where he enjoys the exquisite Kaiseki cuisine of legendary master Yoshihiro Murata. In the kitchen, Chang cooks yakitori – or Japanese grilled chicken.
An ode to the ingredients and personalities of the Big Apple begins, ironically, in Japan where Brooklyn-born chef Ivan Orkin’s popular Ivan Ramen is taking Tokyo by storm. Back in New York, Chang explores Chinatown, visits an upstate pig farm, shucks oysters, and debunks the myth of MSG or monosodium glutamate with Harold McGee. In the kitchen, Chang hangs out with the Torrisi boys in Little Italy; Rich Torrisi prepares Cavatelli PS146 and Chang pays homage to the chilli pan mee he had in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia that is also Italian inspired.
This episode addresses the various theories of food preservation and explores freshness in many forms. Chang examines a technique of killing fish, called ike jime, that inhibits rigor mortis. In the kitchen, he plays with freeze-dried space foods, courtesy of NASA. He hopes to make a better ramen stock using freeze-fried foods, and the results are positive. Harold McGee returns to explain the science behind why dry-aged beef tastes so good.
Savour an entire episode devoted to soy that features the beautiful process of making Japanese tofu. Chang visits tofu miso factories in Japan, pastry whiz Chef Christina Tosi makes a burnt miso apple pie, Laurent Gras takes on tofu, Chang recreates his classic Momofuku hit and number one selling item corn miso, and then takes on the Torrisi boys to compare making tofu to making mozzarella. Later, Rene Redzepi returns to show Chang a very “unmiso miso”, his version of miso using a Nordic yellow bean.
See the sweeter side of David Chang in this episode dedicated to dessert lovers. Chang’s partner and pastry chef Christina Tosi makes corn cookies three ways and her three layered Arnold Palmer Cake. Chang visits a strawberry farm and goes to the kitchen to make strawberry foam, then Chef Daniel Burns makes Anglaise ice cream with pea mousse.
Explore an ingredient that is not edible on its own, but is central to making things taste delicious – smoke. In this episode, Allan Benton shows off his other-worldly smoky bacon and ham from Tennessee. Chef Sean Brock and Chang make their elevated versions of Benton’s favourite local dish, red eye gravy that is made with ham and coffee. Chang also profiles the different styles of barbecue across the United States in North Carolina, Kansas City and Texas. At the end, you’ll be glad we don’t live in a smoke-free world.
Chang cooks and goofs around with his friends – all top chefs – in kitchens around the world. In San Francisco, Daniel Patterson teaches him his technique for making grits with popcorn; Sat Bains whips up brassicas with poached egg; while Claude Bosi makes his “off the cuff” breakfast, improvising with whatever he can find. Laurent Gras prepares sea bream in New York. And, in Copenhagen, Rene Redzepi makes a “Noma-fuku ramen” using only vegetables. Chang then enjoys a delicious bowl of clam chowder with his buddies and they share their views on what it means to be a chef.