David Chang on the Best Piece of Advice He’s Ever Gotten

Chef David Chang explains why he’s never forgotten the advice his immigrant father shared with him. It doesn’t matter how good your business is, if your team is not strong and focused on the details, you’ll lose. Powered by Montblanc

Released on 7/21/2015

Credits

Starring: David Chang and Michael Hainey

Transcript

00:06
Was your father a big inspiration on you.
00:08
I mean, because you came from very different backgrounds.
00:11
Yeah, my dad was basically a hustler
00:13
that immigrated to this country in, like, 1963.
00:16
And I don't understand or believe any of the stories.
00:19
(audience laughter)
00:21
I mean, real shady stuff.
00:23
He taught me one thing.
00:24
And I say this all the time,
00:26
and he taught me a lot things,
00:28
one of which was always work, work, work.
00:30
Now he's, like, Oh, you're working too much.
00:33
In a nutshell, this is Joe Cheng, my dad.
00:36
We would go to restaurants all the time as a kid,
00:39
because he worked in restaurants for 30 years.
00:42
And he would always look at the bathrooms,
00:44
whether it was a fancy restaurant,
00:46
or more often than not, a hole in the wall.
00:48
He'd always come back from the bathroom,
00:50
and be, like, OK, we can eat here.
00:51
It was so embarrassing.
00:54
But for someone that cleaned toilets
00:56
for most of his life in restaurants,
00:58
it was something that was very important to him.
01:00
It told him volumes about the establishment.
01:02
Let's just say you go to a hole-in-the-wall restaurant,
01:04
and you look at the bathroom,
01:05
and they serve great food,
01:07
or maybe they're a mom and pop shop,
01:09
and they're just doing everything.
01:11
They're fighting the good fight,
01:12
and you look in the bathroom and it looks dirty
01:15
from a distance, but if you look closer,
01:17
it's only looking dirty because its so worn
01:19
because they cleaned it so much.
01:21
And then the key is,
01:24
are they cleaning the back of the toilet?
01:26
Because who care about that?
01:29
Who's cleaning the toilet?
01:30
Literally, on the totem pole the lowest person, right?
01:34
But if they're caring about that,
01:35
rest assured that everything will be taken care of.
01:38
I've gone to a fancy restaurant,
01:39
tried my dad's theory out numerous times,
01:41
and it's worked out.
01:43
I've gone to arguably, like, the best restaurant
01:46
in New York City and you look at the back of the toilet,
01:48
everything else looks spotless and is spotless,
01:53
but if you look at the back of the toilet
01:54
where people would never clean, it's filthy.
01:57
And I think that tells you volumes about that establishment.
02:00
You know, it's either the lowest person on the totem pole,
02:02
caring about doing it the right way,
02:04
I mean, then we're doing it right.
02:07
You have to have the people believe
02:09
that everything has to be right.
02:11
And it's a battle to, like, find the details, you know.
02:15
A great meal is a combination of all the small things
02:18
that no one else cares about.
02:19
(acoustic guitar riffs)