Why David Chang’s new memoir ‘Eat a Peach’ is a big deal

The chef and TV personality is releasing a memoir where he’ll open up about his lifelong struggle with depression and the challenges of his popular restaurant.

David Chang – restauranteur, chef extraordinaire, TV personality, James Beard Award winner x5, resident ‘cooking expert’ on Airbnb experiences, and New York Times bestseller has certainly become a mainstay in the cultural zeitgeist as of late.

Photo credit: Andrew Bezek for Momofuku

After the success of his first restaurant Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York’s East Village, Chang started the meteoric expansion of his Momofuku empire by opening over ten different concepts in the USA, Canada, and Australia. 

In between, Momofuku Group launched the wildly popular Momofuku Milk Bar, a cultural phenomenon in and of itself (Cereal Milk Soft Serve and Crack Pie, yes please), and experimental products including salt, seasoning, and sauces. 

Chang then dabbled in entertainment with his own podcast The David Chang Show and made his TV debut on PBS in The Mind of a Chef, the Netflix original series Ugly Delicious, and most recently Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner where he explores Vancouver’s very own culinary scene with Seth Rogan in the first episode.

Photo credit: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner via Netflix

In November 2019, food news outlets such as Eater and Kitchn announced Chang’s upcoming memoir titled Eat a Peach which is reported to be a deeply personal memoir where Chang will open up about his lifelong struggle with depression and the challenges he faced when opening Momofuku Noodle Bar.

Eat a Peach is set to be published in April 2020, and is only available for preorder

This isn’t the first time Chang has spoken candidly about his experiences with mental health. After the death of fellow chef and friend Anthony Bourdain in 2018, Chang opened up on his podcast about his battle with depression. “I believe that depression affects Koreans a lot. It’s something that, in the past, particularly in an Asian household, the idea that you could get help for this was insane,” he said. 

The book will chronicle the financial difficulties he incurred during the early stages of opening Momofuku that reduced his ability to afford therapy and his own cultural experiences that negatively affected his perception of seeking help.

Why is this important?

Whether you’re a fan or not, Chang is a household name in the realm of celebrity chefs, joining the likes of Anthony Bourdain, Gordon Ramsay, Julia Child, and Jamie Oliver.

Chang has been honoured as Chef of the Year three times, is one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people, and was named by Esquire as one of the “most influential people of the twenty-first century.” With over 2.3M followers across social media and a business generating an estimated annual revenue of $100M, he is a bonafide influencer with the dollars to back it up.

Given his wide platform and growing influence, Chang is creating an opportunity to speak out about an important topic that could have far-reaching impacts on his community. Other young Asian people who have experienced judgment or shame for struggling with depression, anxiety, or other forms of mental illness may find their story reflected in Chang’s.

Having a mainstream visible minority divulge his experiences of growing up in a conservative culture or having felt shamed for feeling down can carry immense power for anyone who has struggled silently. His story could be the push for someone who is struggling to seek help or at the very least, open up a space for dialogue around mental health and validate the complexities of growing up in a tight-lipped culture that sometimes leaves you feeling isolated, misunderstood, or wrong for going through a hard time.

As someone who has struggled on and off with depression and anxiety, it’s truly comforting to feel normal for having a complicated relationship with my emotions. Although I am not a chef nor a TV personality or a James Beard award recipient (not even once) – hearing Chang’s story makes me feel seen and accepted for who I am.

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