The End, or just the beginning?

Two hundred and thirty one days and 98 Momofuku recipes later and I’m finally done cooking through the book! I admit, there were a lot of detours along the way, but trust me, they were needed. If there’s one thing that grew—aside from my waistline—with this blog, it was my irritation with David Chang.

Roasted Pork Belly

Don’t get me wrong, Chang is a genius, but it’s one thing to admire a genius and another to try and attempt to re-create his madness. Good thing most of Chang’s madness equals deliciousness! Honestly though, as corny as this is going to sound, cooking through the book was not just a journey through a culinary wonderland, it was also a journey of self-discovery.

At the start of 2010, I was just beginning a year sabbatical from my desk job. I took the sabbatical at the urging of Mike, who wanted me to find my passion. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but much like Chang in his twenties, I knew I didn’t just want to push paper.



The first time I cracked open Momofuku, I couldn’t put it down. I felt drawn to Chang’s story. I could see similarities between us: a love of noodles, a useless liberal arts degrees and a general lack of decisive direction in life. That’s where ours similarities ended. Chang took his love of noodles, ran with it, and now has a restaurant group, a best-selling cook book, millions of dollars and the respect of his peers.

Chicken and Egg

I’d like to say that I too now have a best selling book, millions of dollars and the respect of my peers, but I don’t. That’s not to say Chang didn’t inspire me. I also took my love of food and ran with it, creating a home bakery, a food blog and ultimately, a greeting card and illustration company featuring cute food.

As time consuming and frustrating as it was cooking through the book, I still have to say: Thanks Dave!

Steamed Buns

A couple of tips for you if you ever decide to cook your way through a book:

1. Start with the more complicated recipes near the beginning of your journey. This may seem counter-intuitive because you’ll want to leave them for when you’re a bit more experienced, but enthusiasm beats experience any day. You can always go back and make a dish again.

2. Don’t sweat the small stuff, because details are just details. Don’t worry if you can’t find obscure ingredients, substitute what you can and don’t drive your loved ones crazy with all day “treasure” hunts.

3. Plan ahead. Lots of recipes in cookbooks take multiple days to complete so if you give yourself a timeline, it’ll make it much easier for you to eat when you expect to.

4. Take breaks from cooking. Eat fried chicken. Get your family to cook for you.

5. Set goals that are achievable. Make sure you have an idea of when you want to finish cooking the book, but also set small goals like today I will buy carrots. That way, when you buy carrots, you’ll feel good.

Ginger Scallion Noodles

Tomorrow, the highlights.

39 Comments add yours

  1. What a great journey!! Definitely look at it as the beginning and not the end :) I love your tips for cooking through a cookbook. I always thought that would be fun, but I never had the structure in my life or schedule to actually do it, haha.

    If I can do it, you can do it! Honestly, it was a stretch for me too, but somehow I made it work.

    Great work, truly inspiring, thanks from denmark

    stephan skovlund on October 19th, 2010 at 1:30 am
    steph on August 20th, 2010 at 3:09 pm
  2. Congratulations! It has been fun going on this journey with you.

  3. Congratulations!!

  4. Fantastic. Thanks for sharing your journey. I’ve been following every step. I hope you continue to share your own food ideas and adventures.

  5. Congrats on finishing, Steph! Quite a feat. Can’t wait to see what you get up to next. :)

  6. Wow! That is so inspiring. Wonderful tips and I hope you keep ‘em coming.

  7. Thank you for sharing the great writing and pictures. I have been following and made a few of your non-Chang recipes as well, which have been great. Having made a few of the Chang recipes, like the ramen, I agree that the recipes can be complicated, but ultimately there is a purpose and a delicious result. Congratulations!

  8. Congratulations, Steph! I’m so impressed you stuck with it and got through it all. I think I would have become bored after 10 or 15 recipes. I hope it’s been a good almost-year for you. I’ll be a loyal reader for whatever comes next. :)

    I was getting a bit bored, that’s why I cooked so much other stuff, hee hee!

    steph on August 20th, 2010 at 3:08 pm
  9. I’ve so enjoyed this journey with you! I hope you continue with the blog . . . now with your own recipes!

    It looks like that’s what I’m going to be doing!

    steph on August 20th, 2010 at 3:10 pm
  10. Congrats on finishing! I have loved reading about your adventures with Chang’s crazy recipes, can’t wait to see what’s next!

  11. congrats!!!! i’ve thought of doing something similar, more like cooking my way thru the 370 recipes i have bookmarked, or the countless i’ve torn out of magazines and newspapers, but i think my boyfriend who is trying to lose weight would leave me ;)
    please give a shout out if you ever make it back to nyc – there are so many amazing places here, and it’s always fantastic to experience them with other food appreciators

    It’s a constant struggle, cooking and eating good food and trying to be healthy, so I feel your boyfriend’s pain!

    Thanks for the invite, I know I’ll be in NYC again!

    steph on August 20th, 2010 at 3:11 pm
  12. yay! double thumbs up!

  13. Way to go! Congrats!
    Thanks for all your insight on your cooking.
    Your prize? Your QLF dinner is free. Hahaha

    Hope you keep the blog up

    Thanks, but are you sure!? You know how much I can eat!
    If I’m ever in the area, I’ll be sure to visit!

    steph on August 20th, 2010 at 3:12 pm
  14. Steph, you’re a wonder woman. I say it. I’ve been following your journey through the cookbook almost from the beggining – it was incredible. All the crazy thoughts about life and irritation about Chang – are just nonentities. You’ve beaten the book, you can beat anything :) Believe me.

    I just hope you keep the blog up.

  15. so whats next for you and this blog?
    good luck with whatever you choose to do next!

  16. Congratulations!! Your blog and your determination has really inspired me. In a lot of ways, I feel like I can relate. I’m also in my 20′s and I feel like doing more than being stuck at my finance job forever. I love your illustrations btw!! They are too cute for words. Any tips for a newbie who doesn’t even know how to build a website? Your new design looks great.

    Thanks, but I’m not a great designer, that’s all Mike. I know there are a lot of free themes for WordPress, so you might want to start there.

    steph on August 20th, 2010 at 3:14 pm
  17. What a treat it was to find your blog. I have made about 1/4 of the recipes in Changs book and have read about half of your posts. I look forward to working on your blog and Chang’s cook book in the future. As a native New Yorker and restaurant cook, I want to thank you for creating such an amazing resource. I look forward to following your next project. Cheers.

  18. YAY for finishing! I am a third of the way through cooking through the cookbook I chose. You are an inspiration and an encouragement :D

    also… I included this post to my “Linky Love Friday”.

    Kris on August 20th, 2010 at 7:04 pm
  19. Congrats!! Such an awesome story and I’ve loved reading your blog and salivating over Chang’s pork-goodness among other things! It takes guts to follow your dream so way to go :) Can’t wait to see what’s next!

  20. Upon seeing Your accomplishment, I feel all happy inside *fuzzy*! Now that You’re done, what’s next? Congratulations Steph <3

  21. Congratulations Steph! What an awesome feeling it must be! Thanks for sharing your kitchen and your thoughts. Looking forward to your next endeavour :)

    Thanks Dan! It does feel pretty awesome.

    steph on August 20th, 2010 at 3:15 pm
  22. Wow, congrats! I think I started following your blog just a few days after you started the journey, so I really feel like I’ve been along for almost the entire ride. Congratulations! I am super impressed with some of the crazy challenges you took on – such as the pig’s head and the octopus, oh my! Looking forward to seeing what you have next!

  23. wow congrats, you really completed an admirable journey! What’s next?

  24. I’ve loved this project. I have to admit, my part of the East Village is like the center of the Chang Universe, and I literally groan whenever I hear his name or about those crack pies/compost cookies which I find inedibly cloying. But you’ve got a real knack for writing about and photographing food, and you made this site a wonderful read. I hope your next project is food-related. Congrats on finishing the book!

  25. Congratulations! I’ve been following this blog for a long time and I can’t believe you’ve finished the book already! Like others have said, I do hope you keep cooking and writing about it because you do it so well and your food photography is gorgeous. I love food and cooking and this blog has been such an inspiration to me. Best of luck with the card business, they are so cute I can’t stand it :) I can’t wait to see what you do next!

  26. You’re a real heroine – what a project! Congratulations and thank you so much for all those inspiring posts.

  27. Congratulations to you!

  28. Congrats and thank you for sharing all the wonderful food and fotos! I found you blog in the early days just after I got the Momofuku book for Christmas. It was great following your steps and achievements! I also read the book from cover to cover but strangely I found more pleasure in reading you blog than starting cooking from the book myself. Whatever you do – I will be coming back.
    Diana from Germany

  29. My friend showed me your blog as he is going to attempt the shaved foie gras dessert. I love your writing and I’m inspired to go out and buy a copy of momofuku’s cookbook too! :)

  30. It’s like an Asian version of Julie & Julia, lol.

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