Gizmodo goes inside the test kitchen of David Chang’s Momofuku. He’s been a GQ Man of the Year, Time 100 person, lectured at Harvard, has picked up a couple of Michelin stars. In a world where chefs are cool, Chang may be the coolest chef on the planet right now.
So what goes on at the Momofuku Lab? “Science and cooking,” says Chang. “That’s what it is—it’s one in the same. Trust me, I’m not a science guy, but I’m trying to learn because I’ve realized that there’s so much more to learn about food.”
Right now, Chang and the Dans have microbes on the brain. They’re working on stuff like trying to create their own miso and soy sauce, growing their own koji molds—the mold that ferments soybeans to make that stuff. As Chang talks, a small barrel filled with shoyu sits in a dark corner of the lab, secreting flavor crystals through the cracks, looking like the world’s tastiest barrel of toxic waste. “Microbes, I feel is without a doubt-food on a microbial level-is going to play a massive role in the near future, or now. I mean, even now people are saying let’s make pickles, let’s do it all in house, let’s cure our own meats, let’s do all this stuff. That’s all happening because of fucking bacteria and fungus.”
Momofuku works surprisingly like a software company: The lab operates independently of the restaurants, separately developing new recipes, ideas and techniques, but the restaurants are free to grab anything the lab’s developed—or they can ask the lab for help to make something happen. But that’s partly why the lab is, from a super nerd standpoint, sparsely equipped. “If we can do it with a whisk and a bowl, so can they at the restaurant,” says the taller, redder of the Dans, Burns.