David Chang to Join Toronto’s Hotel Shangri-La

The Shangri-La Toronto is slowly starting to flex its muscles as a major downtown attraction—and it’s still only skeletons and scaffolding. The 5-star, 66 story hotel and residence tower, which straddles the Financial and Entertainment districts, it’s already causing a stir amongst locals. Anticipation has been building on Urban Toronto‘s forum, where construction progress and rumormongering have been laboriously detailed by users. The latest to come out of the construction site (and perpetuated on Twitter): David Chang has plans to open a restaurant in the hotel, joining the property for its 2012 scheduled opening.

Chang is an incredibly busy dude: ruler of the Momofuku empire (which includes Momofuku Noodle Bar, Momofuku Ssäm Bar, Má Pêche, Momofuku Milk Bar and the Michelin-starred Momofuku Ko), celebrated cookbook author, culinary bad boy (a title earned after telling Anthony Bourdain that Cali chefs “don’t manipulate food, they just put figs on a plate”), and most recently, an iPad app publisher. While Chang has not made an official confirmation, he did cryptically Tweet something rather leading:

@DavidChang: hello southern ontario . . . late late 2012ish?

To which the Urban Torontoans exclaimed:

David Chang? Seriously? That’s a massive score. I’d had my fingers crossed for a Nobu, but I’ll take a Momofuku anyday.

Hopefully they don’t build up too much buzz about it, so that I’ll actually be able to get the odd reservation here and there. Major pain in the ass to get in to some of his NYC locations.

I think the other hotels are dead to me now. This is the one I’m waiting for.

This Toronto-based project would be the chef’s first restaurant outside of New York City—a major coup for Shangri-La. His restaurant is rumored to be three full levels, in construction next to the hotel’s pools on the northeast end side of the hotel.

New York: 5 Places to Stress-Eat After Seeing ‘Precious’

Look. I know Mo’Nique and I didn’t see eye-to-eye in the past, but that doesn’t mean I think less of her as an actress. In fact, I’m still pulling for her to pick up an Oscar win, possibly as a tasteful eff you to less-deserving victors of yore. Also as a bird-flip to the Academy who probably assume that with her unique body of work, she’d never get within spitting distance to even a Best Supporting Actress nomination. In fact, she and I celebrate our birthdays within a day of each other, so I could think of no one more fitting to uncork a bottle of champagne with. Another reason to pop the champy? Today, Precious opens everywhere (well, New York and Los Angeles anyway). Many of you are probably coordinating your happy hours accordingly. But somewhere in your post-movie regiment this evening, you may need to work in a restaurant conducive to eating your emotions, as the film is set to leave salt deposits on your face. Five suggestions after the jump.

El Centro – One excellent way to sublimate sorrow is to indulge in sour cream and cheese. I mean, you have your option of chicken, beef, or beans; you also have a choice between side salad and paella. But really, you should skip to the saturated fats and empty calories. ● Momofuku Bakery Milk Bar – Dessert for dinner is acceptable if your pick-me-up needs to be quick. Two words: Pork buns. ● Sylvia’s – Carboload at this iconic Harlem staple on mac & cheese, fried chicken, and mashed potatoes without judgment. ● Foodswings – If you can’t bear to maul through dead flesh no matter how hysterical you are, this South Williamsburg cafe offers a platter of vegan-friendly junk food. ● Shake Shack – And if you have no qualms about tearing through dead flesh, queue up for a burger. Skip the single, go with the double.

Industry Insiders: David Chang, Chef Afire

A few years ago, a little restaurant called Momofuku Noodle Bar tucked itself into an East Village storefront. There was buzz over noodles, pork buns, a consistent gaggle of wait-listed patrons out front, and an of-the-minute, Pitchfork-grade music selection. The proprietor? This David Chang guy, this chef who couldn’t complete an interview without being self-depreciating to a fault, or throwing in an expletive or nine. Cut to present: Chang’s interview style hasn’t changed. His business has.

He conquered the East Village via a Ssäm Bar, a Milk Bar, and Ko—one of the hottest reservations in town, moved to the old Noodle Bar space—with his next mission being midtown, he’s gone from chef to full-on restaurateur. He recently took part in the “Four Fucking Dinners,” hosting some of the world’s most acclaimed chefs in his kitchens. He’s got a cookbook coming out, co-written by former New York Times $25 and Under critic Peter Meehan. And he’s participating in French food movement/magazine Le Fooding’s takeover of New York next week. We caught him for a few minutes to wax poetic on Le Fooding, fried chicken, the cookbook, cooking critics, and how Chang’s holding up between it all.

How’d you get involved with Le Fooding? I heard about Le Fooding through my friend Mauro Colagreco, who is a chef at Mirazur in France. He’d done some events with them and they approached me in New York last summer. I was pretty amazed that [Le Fooding’s] Alexander Cammas had moved his entire family here to make sure that it would take off.

How will this food festival will differ from others in New York? It’s a different spin. I hate doing events where you basically just serve something, and then people get drunk. They’re almost all the same. This one’s a collaboration of artists, musicians. It has a lot going on for it. Food’s the afterthought, but not really. It’s more of an event to get together and do something cool. On our end, it’s been organized very well.

What will you prepare? We’re trying to keep it simple. We’ll probably do a pulled pork, put it on some lettuce, and figure it out from there. Some type of variation of a Bo Ssäm. There needs to be some ease to what we do, but it still has to be delicious.

Tell us about the Four Fucking Dinners. In French, it translated to something like, ‘to eat fucking dinner.’ That was how it happened. It was a literal translation. It was all set up by Omnivore. We just figured out where was best to put who. Wylie has the beautiful kitchen, so at wd-50, they’re getting the Godfather, Michel Bras. We thought Ko is small, so it was perfect for Pascal Barbot. It really wasn’t that hard for us to decide. It’s exciting to have these chefs; I just hope we don’t fuck up their food.

How would that happen? Anytime you’re cooking in someone else’s kitchen, it’s tough on both parties. We’ve never worked together and I think everyone’s bringing their sous chefs, which is a challenge, logistically. Everyone wants to serve the best product possible. You have five chefs coming, that all have incredibly high standards, so we’re going to try to be of assistance to them and not a hindrance.

Are you surprised at the way the fried chicken dinners took off? Very much.

Locanda Verde now has a fried chicken dinner, did you ignite a trend? No, I know that they were all doing it independently. I had no idea that Andrew Carmellini was going to do it. I didn’t think that the other chicken we wanted would be an Old Bay spiced chicken. I knew that it would draw inevitable comparisons to Andrew’s chicken that he cooked at Café, which was amazing.

You told Alan Richman, GQ Food Critic, to ‘open up his own fucking restaurant’. Do you think he could? No, it was more just to be like, “I love you, Alan, but shut the fuck up.”

How did you get set up with Peter Meehan for your cookbook? Pete and I became friends over the years. I never knew who he was when he started coming into the restaurant, until Mark Bittman accidentally told me. Then I was like: “You’re the motherfucker who reviews restaurants.” He’d always come in for lunch on Saturdays and Sundays. He looked familiar, but I never knew that he was the Peter Meehan. I don’t know if we’d actually be friends if it weren’t for Mark Bittman, but we might have bumped into each other at a concert because we have similar musical taste. That’s how I met Peter Meehan, or at least figured out who the hell he was. Most things I do get a lot of attention, the less I do, the better it turns out. Pete really took charge (with the cookbook). Everyone helped, and Pete had a tremendous amount of work and he put it all together. If it’s a great book, it’s all Peter. If it’s a dud, it’s all my fault.

What’s up with Momofuku Midtown? We’re trying to get it ready and still trying to find a name. It’ll open late-Fall or early-Winter.

Are you over-extended? I do feel over-extended. We have a great staff, I’m not working the line every night. The midtown show is really Tien Ho’s project. I’m just going to be there in a supporting role for whatever he needs. I’m not necessarily bored, I’m just constantly trying something new with the rest of the restaurants. This year’s particularly trying in terms of events and scheduling, but that’s just how it goes sometimes. I don’t plan on having this hectic of a schedule again. Ideally, I’d like to not do so many events. But this might be how it is for the rest of the time, no one’s told me how things are supposed to be. I don’t know if it’s over-extended, but we want success, and I didn’t realize the baggage that came with that. It’s certainly surreal and weird.

What’s the key to keeping the dynasty afloat? I think that we need to hold ourselves to a high accountability, don’t believe the press, and we’re only as good as our last dish. We just need to keep pushing to get better everyday, and stay as humble.

What’s your fall drink? When fall and winter come around, I hit the brown stuff. Bourbon, usually Pappy Van Winkle‘s. 15 year and if I’m lucky, 20 year.

Where are you going out? I go to bars less and less these days. I always try to keep up to date with what Wylie is doing at wd. 15 East is great for sushi. I’d go to Sushi Yasuda all the time if it wasn’t in midtown, and Oriental Garden.

New York: Top 10 Oddball Dishes That Work

imageIt all started in the Lower East Side back in 2003 — before the skinny-jeaned hipster invasion — when now-celeb chef Wylie Dufresne opened wd-50. Melding science and food, the molecular gastronomer has since inspired many to experiment. Of course, not everyone’s into mad food science, but most chefs like to get a little edgy somewhere on the menu. ● Cookies @ Momofuku Bakery Milk Bar (East Village) – David Chang could get a vegetarian hooked on pork belly, so imagine what the man’s dessert spot can do with a cookie. Among the most drool-worthy: cornflake-marshmallow-chocolate chip, corn, blueberry cream, and compost cookie (so fabulously odd that the chocolate chip, pretzel, potato chip, coffee ground, and graham-cracker crumb-concoction is trademarked). ● Onion soup dumplings @ Stanton Social (Lower East Side – You’ll just have to focus on its deliciousness and put aside the fact that there’s enough cheese in this dish to give you a cholesterol problem.

● “Ragu with Odd Things” @ Commerce (West Village) – The name says it all. The “odd things” in this hearty, tomato-based dish refer to oxtail, trotters, and tripe. ● Fried apple pie @ Smith’s (Greenwich Village) – We’ve got fried pickles, fried olives, fried asparagus … we’ve even got fried mayonnaise thanks to Wylie Dufresne. So why not apply pie? Plus, it comes with cinnamon whipped cream. ● Solids (edible cocktails) @ Tailor (Soho) – Who wouldn’t want to get a buzz from gin fizz marshmallows, white Russian breakfast cereal, and absinthe gummy bears? ● Foie gras & hibiscus beet borscht gelée with blood orange @ Corton (Tribeca) – The smooth foie gras torchon — encased in a thin layer of hibiscus and beet gelée and served, moon-shaped, with a salad of beet gelée and blood orange — is just one of the many lusciously innovative options at this prix-fixe-only spot. ● Spicy cayenne hot chocolate @ SalonTea (Upper East Side) – In addition to supposedly speeding up your metabolism and improving blood circulation, it aids in digestion; this sure beats the garlic, celery, and beet concoction from the local health store juice bar. ● Frozen desserts @ Fabio Piccolo Fiore (Midtown East) – Anyone who watches Iron Chef on a semi-regular basis knows that nothings gets the judges more excited than ice cream and sorbet experimentations. Taste for yourself what they’re ooing and ahhing about at Fabio where the rotating flavors include fig and honey, cucumber, rosemary, cactus berry, pineapple mint, tomato vanilla, and goat cheese. ● Hamburger spring rolls @ Delicatessen (Soho) – Burger + flaky dough + condiments…could there be a more ingenious combination? ● Eggs benedict @ wd-50 (Lower East Side) – Dufresne has long touted eggs benedict as one of his favorite dishes, so it’s little surprise that his innovative take on the classic stands out: two cubes of deep-fried hollandaise sauce with toasted English muffin crumbs and two columns of egg yolk, each covered with a crispy bacon chip.