From the chef behind Momofuku and star of Netflix’s Ugly Delicious—an intimate account of the making of a chef, the story of the modern restaurant world that he helped shape, and how he discovered that success can be much harder to understand than failure.
Chang is brutally honest and forthcoming about his up-and-down fight against depression and his ongoing struggles with anger management. It’s a success story that features plenty of misfires. The one constant throughout is a deep-seated and genuine love of cooking, both in terms of culinary exploration and cultural storytelling ... isn’t your usual celebrity memoir; Chang proves to be brutally honest about many of his own shortcomings. He celebrates his successes, of course, but he is also forthcoming about his failures. And his willingness to speak frankly about his mental health struggles is especially welcome; even now, there’s a stigma that comes with those kinds of conversations. His feelings of otherness, of being an outsider no matter where he was, come through with a heartbreaking clarity ... He’s also a hell of a storyteller, a gifted and charming raconteur who breathes enthusiastic life into his tales – culinary and otherwise. Chang’s ability to capture the intensity of life in the kitchen makes Eat a Peach a fiery and compelling read. We also get a glimpse of the business side of things, a sausage-making aspect of restaurant entrepreneurialism that isn’t often fully reckoned with in memoirs like this ... The book closes with an absolutely dynamite section titled simply '33 Rules for Becoming a Chef.' It is a frank, thoughtful and hilarious dissection of the realities of becoming a chef, packed with good advice. Chang is unafraid of dealing in harsh realities; at times, it borders on the antagonistic. But it all springs from a place of honest love and affection for the vocation. As with the rest of the book, Chang’s combination of genuine affection and deep-running pessimism regarding the craft is prominent ... a delight, a book that will prove fascinating to anyone interested in the culinary world. Chang’s honesty and humor are just two of the many quality ingredients that make up the recipe for this delicious reading. Whether you’re a full-on foodie or simply a Food Network junkie, you’ll want to dig into this one.
With humor, pathos and heaping spoonsful of self-deprecation, Mr. Chang covers the ins and outs, the fires and floods, that come with running a restaurant—while constantly questioning his place in the constellation of celebrity chefs ... an honest, ugly, raw dish of a book ... Mr. Chang apologizes for his behavior, but only broadly, abstractly, never directly to the individual workers he’s harmed ... There was a time when such a book might inspire a generation of young cooks to sharpen their knives and move to New York, much like similar chefs-behaving-badly memoirs, including Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential and Bill Buford’s Heat. But Eat a Peach reads like a requiem, the last gasp of the celebrity chef. Do not open a restaurant unless you must, he advises the next generation of chefs, when he should have written: Do not operate a restaurant like I did ... Mr. Chang’s memoir will no doubt add more fuel to the funeral pyre. He might be called out for his episodes of bad behavior. He might be forced to divest his restaurant holdings, as has happened to other misbehaving celebrity chefs. Or he might take a different tack and use his capital and charisma to speak out about sustainable and equitable farm, health and wage-earning systems, like his mentor Tom Colicchio. Or, like José Andrés, he might help feed the nation’s neediest. In the wake of Covid-19, Mr. Chang has joined forces with other New York restaurant owners to address wage inequality in the city’s restaurant industry. But customers and critics will surely demand more. Whatever happens next, Mr. Chang knows that as the hill stretches ever higher, the Sisyphean peach that is his burden grows heavier by the day.
Throughout his first memoir, chef, restaurateur, and Ugly Delicious host Chang never loses sight of the 'monumental weirdness' of writing a book about himself. While he discusses his upbringing in a Korean American family with poignance, particularly his relationship with his father, this is primarily a book about Chang’s career and mental health, and how the two are intertwined ... Chang is just as open about professional missteps as successes, lauding his talented team while never sparing himself criticism. He also applies brave transparency to the realities of coping with his bipolar disorder, and battling suicidal thoughts. Culinary-minded readers will find much instruction here as well as the intimate self-portrait of a chef who works hard not to be at the top of his game, but instead always growing.