Vogue: “The Anxiety of Influence”

Photographed by Anton Corbijn, Vogue, September 2013

David Chang, Photographed by Anton Corbijn, Vogue, September 2013

I’m a magazine addict. I subscribe to more of them than I can ever fully read: Decanter, The World of Fine Wine, Sommelier Journal, The New Yorker, The Tasting Panel, The Wine Advocate, Travel + Leisure. There are many more I want to read and many free publications I pick up each month like Edible Santa Fe. They’re mainly about food and wine, or literary in focus (I still have every copy of The Believer from several years as a subscriber). You may not think a magazine like Vogue would fit into this lineup, but for years I’ve loved it. I especially look forward to the Fall Fashion issue, and this year didn’t disappoint–900 scrumptious, colorful pages of the most beautiful, and sometimes super weird, clothes, shoes and jewelry. Besides salivating over designer items I’ll probably never own, I also enjoy Vogue’s content–articles about architecture, art events, philanthropy, travel and health and fitness. For me, Vogue is sort of like TV for a reader, something fun and relaxing to do while eating lunch between morning errands and an afternoon job.

Vogue, September 2013

Vogue, September 2013

This morning I flipped through Vogue’s pages over eggs and orange juice and was stoked to find an article about David Chang, the chef behind Momofuku, titled “The Anxiety of Influence,” by John Powers. Last winter I traveled to New York for a sommelier exam and decided to make epicurean delights my main focus, after all the last-minute studying. I had dinner at Balthazar (my boyfriend and I shared a bottle of Côtes du Rhône and the salt-roasted fish with saffron-almond basmati rice, bok choy and meyer lemon vin blanc for two). We also enjoyed an amazing dinner at Craft (I’ll never forget the braised beef short ribs). On our last day in the city, we met a friend at David Chang’s Ssäm Bar. A fellow sommelier in Santa Fe said I had to go check it out while I was in the city, and so we showed up at the tiny restaurant just as they were opening–without a reservation! We were super lucky to get in, and scored a great spot near the window where we enjoyed one of the best lunches I’ve had: a selection of paper-thin country hams from Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee, savory duck dumplings and of course, steamed pork buns with pork belly, hoisin, cucumbers and scallions. We tried several interesting wines by the glass as well including a white blended from 5 or 6 different varietals.

Momofuku Ssam Bar

Momofuku Ssam Bar, 207 Second Ave. at 13th St., New York NY

Steamed Pork Bun

Steamed Pork Bun

This article embodied two things I love, the literary and the culinary. I loved reading about Chang’s many restaurants and the business of being a famous chef. Powers writes, “…Chang is currently torn between being admired as ‘an awesome chef, an innovator,’ and searching for a way to cash in. If getting rich were all that mattered, he and Salmon could have already sold off Momofuku to a corporation that offered what Chang calls, not without a hint of regret, ‘hundreds of zeroes, thousands of stores, the chance to be a millionaire maybe a hundred times over.’ To sell or not to sell, that is the question.” The article is well-written and Powers brings a human face to a chef who, in the culinary world, has risen to mythical status.

Lucky Peach, October 13, 2013

Lucky Peach, current issue

The quality of the article also reminded me that it’s high time I subscribed to Lucky Peach, Chang’s epicurean quarterly published by McSweeney’s (Dave Eggers’ publishing company, which also publishes The Believer). The current issue is full of fun articles like, “Four Meals at the Toughest Strip Club in Downtown Los Angeles,” and “As Alice Sees It,” an interview with Alice Waters.

There’s always room for one more magazine on my kitchen table.

Read the entire article, “The Anxiety of Influence,” here:

Vogue: The Anxiety of Influence by John Powers

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