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Enter the Wu-Chang Clan

Apropos of almost* nothing, I give you this: David Chang is the RZA of chefs, and Momofuku is his Wu-Tang Clan.

Chang leads a crew of like-minded foodslingers, each of which he wants to help make a star in his own right. Hip-hop mastermind RZA did the same with the Wu, helping O.D.B., Ghostface, Method Man, Raekwon, etc., spin off successful solo careers.

Not buyin' it? Consider the evidence.

20070531wuchang.jpgFirst this, from a recent New York magazine profile:

With the burrito profits he hopes to rake in, Chang plans to spin off more Asian-burrito bars, all in the service of bankrolling the ambitious efforts of his talented colleagues—who otherwise couldn’t afford to open their own restaurants—in a revolutionary kind of culinary collective. "It’s too hard to open up a restaurant now, even if you’re really talented," says Chang, who plans to make his chefs and managers co-owners. “I believe it’s got to be more of a group effort. By doing this, we can attract more talent and change the way things are done."

And then this, from the Wu-Tang's own website:

The 9 members of the Wu-Tang Clan have each released solo albums, as well as performing under several subprojects with other Wu-Tang members, and others outside the Clan. This was the plan from the group's inception; the group would make them each famous enough to launch multiple side projects, and take over the hip-hop community through saturation of like-minded rappers. Though there was some difficulty in finding a record label that would sign the Wu-Tang Clan while still allowing each member to record solo albums with other labels, Loud/RCA finally agreed and the debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers, was a popular and critically acclaimed album, though it took some time to gain momentum.

The last sentence of the Wu-Tang material also mirrors the way Chang's own fledgling empire faced an early lack of momentum when the burritos didn't sell as well as planned. (A menu shift and James Beard award have since reinvigorated Chang's Ssäm Bar.)

Also: Vegas is to Chang as Hollywood is to RZA?

Only time will tell if Chang's collective will spin off other stars. Just don't ask me who the O.D.B. of the Wu-Chang Clan would be.

* "Almost" nothing because all my Serious Eats colleagues do is blab about David Chang and Momofuku all day long.

Photograph of Chang from the New York Times; photograph of RZA by Beth Fladung

Printed from http://www.seriouseats.com/2007/05/enter-the-wu-chang-clan.html

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