Chang grew up in Vienna, Virginia with two older brothers and a sister. His father was a South Korean immigrant and owned a golfing goods warehouse and two restaurants. As a child, Chang was a competitive golfer who participated in a number of junior tournaments. Chang attended Georgetown Prep and then Trinity College, where he majored in religious studies. After graduating from college, Chang pursued a variety of jobs, including teaching English in Japan, then bussing tables and holding finance positions in New York City.
Chang started attending the French Culinary Institute (FCI)—now known as the International Culinary Center—in New York City in 2000. While he was training, he also worked part-time at Mercer Kitchen in Manhattan and got a job answering phones at Tom Colicchio's Craft restaurant. Chang stayed at Craft for two years and then moved back to Japan to work at a small soba shop, followed by a restaurant in Tokyo's Park Hyatt Hotel. Upon returning to the U.S. Chang worked at Café Boulud, where his idol, Alex Lee, had worked. But Chang soon grew "completely dissatisfied with the whole fine dining scene".
In 2004, Chang opened his first restaurant, Momofuku Noodle Bar in the East Village. Chang's website states momofuku means 'lucky peach' (Japanese: 桃福), but it is likely a reference to Momofuku Ando—the inventor of instant noodles.
In August 2006, Chang's second restaurant, Momofuku Ssäm Bar, opened a few blocks away. In March 2008, Chang opened Momofuku Ko, a 12-seat restaurant that takes reservations ten days in advance, online only, on a first-come-first-served basis. Later that year, Chang expanded Momofuku Ssäm Bar into an adjacent space, which he named Momofuku Milk Bar, serving soft serve, along with cookies, pies, cakes and other treats.
In May 2009 it was reported that Momofuku Milk Bar's Crack Pie, Cereal Milk, and Compost Cookies were in the process of being trademarked. In October 2009, Chang and former New York Times food writer Peter Meehan published Momofuku, a highly anticipated cookbook containing detailed recipes from Chang's restaurants. In May 2010, Chang opened Má Pêche in midtown Manhattan.
In November 2010, Chang announced the opening of his first restaurant outside the US in Sydney, Australia. Momofuku Seiōbo opened in October 2011 at the redeveloped Star City Casino in Southern-hemisphere. In an article with the Sydney Morning Herald, Chang was quoted as saying: 'I've just fallen in love with Australia. I'm just fascinated by the food scene in Sydney and Melbourne. People are excited about food in Australia. It's fresh and it's energetic.' The restaurant was awarded three hats from the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide in its first year and was named Best New Restaurant.
In March 2011, Chang announced that he would be bringing Momofuku to Toronto, and opened it in late 2012. The restaurant is located in a three-story glass cube in the heart of downtown Toronto. Momofuku Toronto is made up of three restaurants, these are Noodle Bar, Daishō and Shōtō; as well as a bar Nikai.
Chang launched Fuku, a chain of fast food restaurants specializing in fried chicken sandwiches, in June 2015. In 2016, Chang launched his first digital-only restaurant, which offers a menu only for delivery in Midtown East and takes orders taken via an app named Ando. Later in 2016, Chang participated in a project hosted by a Silicon Valley startup named Impossible Foods. He prepared a food that was later added on the menu of one of his restaurants, Momofuku Nishi, as a partnership between Impossible Foods and David Chang.
In July 2017, Chang announced the opening of his first west coast restaurant in Los Angeles. The restaurant is set to open in fall 2017.
In 2010, he appeared in the fifth episode of Season One of HBO's Treme alongside fellow chefs Tom Colicchio, Eric Ripert and Wylie Dufresne. His presence on the show was expanded in the second season when one of the characters, a New Orleans chef who has moved to New York city, takes a job in his restaurant. Chang has also served as a guest judge on the reality show Top Chef: All Stars. In 2011 he was a guest judge on MasterChef Australia. Chang hosted the first season of the PBS food series The Mind of a Chef, which was executive produced by Anthony Bourdain and premiered in the fall of 2012. In September 2013, David appeared on a skit on the Deltron 3030 album, Event 2.
In summer 2011, David Chang released the first issue of his Lucky Peach food magazine, a quarterly publication created with Peter Meehan and published by McSweeney’s. The theme of Issue 1 was Ramen. Contributors included Anthony Bourdain, Wylie Dufresne, Ruth Reichl, and Harold McGee. The theme of Issue 2 is The Sweet Spot, and Issue 2 reached #3 on the NY Times bestsellers list. Contributors to Issue 2 include Anthony Bourdain, Harold McGee, Momofuku Milk Bar’s Christina Tosi, Daniel Patterson and Russell Chatham. Issue 3: Chefs and Cooks, was released on March 13 and was also a New York Times Bestseller. Each subsequent issue has continued to focus on a particular theme.
Epicurious described Chang as having a "bad-boy attitude" for having no reservations or vegetarian options. Chang created a controversy in 2009 by making dismissive remarks about California chefs, telling Anthony Bourdain "They don’t manipulate food, they just put figs on a plate.”David Chang; Peter Meehan (2009-10-27). Momofuku. Clarkson N Potter Publishers. ISBN 978-0-307-45195-8.
David Chang; Chris Ying; Peter Meehan (2011- May 2017). Lucky Peach.
New York:Momofuku Noodle Bar
Momofuku Ssäm Bar
Má Pêche in Chambers Hotel
Booker and Dax (Located in Ssäm Bar)
Momofuku Milk Bar (Midtown)
Momofuku Milk Bar (East Village)
Momofuku Milk Bar (Williamsburg, Brooklyn)
Momofuku Milk Bar (Upper West Side)
Momofuku Milk Bar (Carroll Gardens)
Fuku (East Village)
Sydney:Momofuku Seiōbo in The Star
James Beard Foundation Awards2006 James Beard Rising Star Chef of the Year Nomination
2007 James Beard Rising Star Chef of the Year
2008 James Beard Best Chef New York City for Momofuku Ssäm Bar
2009 James Beard Best New Restaurant for Momofuku Ko
2010 Momofuku – Cookbook Nomination
2012 James Beard Outstanding Chef (nominated)
2013 James Beard Outstanding Chef
2014 James Beard Foundation Who's Who in Food and Beverage in America
The S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best RestaurantsThe S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants: Momofuku Ko – #65 (2011)
The S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants: Momofuku Ssäm Bar – #37 (2012)
The S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants: Momofuku Ko – #79 (2012)
The S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants: Momofuku Ssäm Bar– #86 (2013)
The S. Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants: Momofuku Ssäm Bar- #64 (2014)
MichelinKo : 2 Michelin Stars for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 Michelin Guide: Momofuku Ssäm Bar and Momofuku Noodle Bar, Michelin Bib Gourmands Guide to NYC
The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food GuideMomofuku Seiōbo – Three Hats (2013)
Momofuku Seiōbo – Best New Restaurant (2013)
Additional Awards + Accolades2013 Momofuku Seiōbo, Restaurant of the Year
2013 Momofuku Shōtō and Daishō, The Best New Toronto Restaurants
2012 Momofuku, The Most Important Restaurant in America
2012 Momofuku Ko, Five Most Influential Restaurants of the Past Six Years
2012 Momofuku Seiōbo, Time Out Restaurant of the Year
White Guide (March 2012) – Global Gastronomy Award 2012
Crain’s New York (March 2011) – 40 Under 40
2010 Time 100 Most Influential People
Food & Wine 2006 Best New Chef
Bon Appetit's 2007 Chef of the Year
GQ's 2007 Chef of the Year