Nom Nom November: Sue Chan of Momofuku
I was born in Taiwan, I grew up in Southern California, and then moved to New York for college. Every step of the way, food was a big part of my life. In Taiwan, I would go to the Night Markets with my parents. In the suburbs of Southern California, I watched an incredible amount of Sara Moulton and Martha Stewart. Chino Farms was our local farmer's market. In college, I wrote my thesis on food deserts in New York City, and I spent five weeks as an extern at The Spotted Pig. Five years ago, I started at Momofuku as an Office Assistant. After six months, I became Dave [Chang's] assistant. Now, I'm the brand director for Momofuku.
How would you describe the world of Momofuku?
We're a big family. Dave and his business partner, Drew Salmon, put their employees first before profit or sales. It is also a world that has grown in the past two years to include locations in Sydney and Toronto.
Is David Chang as weird and wonderful to work with as he appears?
Dave has played a lot of roles in my time at Momofuku: Boss, mentor, brother. It's all been weird and wonderful in the best of ways. The biggest lesson I've learned from him is to challenge the status quo.
Are you involved with Lucky Peach? (We love that magazine!)
I love Lucky Peach, too! And, I love the guys behind it even more: Peter Meehan and Chris Ying. Peter is my intellectual shaman. I hope my sons grow up to be like them. My team oversees their publicity and events, so we get to work with them on a daily basis.
Any meal is made perfect with good company.
Winter is upon us…how do you stay cozy?
I drink a lot of tea in the winter. Dave's friend, Tina Chai, introduced me to Fortnum & Mason's Jasmine Green Tea.
Where are your favorite places to eat out?
I'm drawn to restaurants with simple food, an interesting wine list, and a warm, casual atmosphere. Right now, Estela is my new obsession. It's the kind of place where you bump into all of the friends that you want to see. I also love Marlow & Sons, especially for their Chicken Liver Pate with a glass of wine from their natural wine list. You also can't go wrong with a restaurant from Alex Raji. I order the Uni Panini every time I visit El Quinto Pino.
What is your favorite thing to cook at home?
I like to cook anything that I can find at the farmers market.
Tell us about the Toklas Society for Women in Food and Hospitality you're involved in. It sounds like an amazing project.
There are so many badass women in the food world who are often not in the spotlight, and are still doing incredible work. Through events and digital content, we provide a platform where they can tell their story and talk about their professional experiences. We hope these stories will inspire, educate and promote personal as well as professional growth for other women in the industry.
Saturday nights or Sunday mornings?
Milk Bar or Ssäm Bar?
Both, because you can have it all at Ssäm Bar: First, the whole rotisserie duck, followed by Christina Tosi's Milk Bar Popcorn Cake.