“So, the only reason this was successful was because we were supposed to go out of business.”
-David Chang

“So, the only reason this was successful was because we were supposed to go out of business.”
-David Chang

How to Overcome Failure
and Turn it into a Thriving Career​

This past summer, I watched a show on Netflix called “Ugly Delicious.” There are only eight episodes, so I didn’t want to binge-watch. I wanted the show to last as long as it could. Each night I would scoop a heaping bowl of ice cream and settle down on the couch to watch. I didn’t know who David Chang was before watching his show. In the first two episodes, you hear people marvel at his ability as a renowned chef. I had no idea David and I had anything in common. We were both failures.

Season 1 Episode 3 told his startup story. But I was sitting on my couch eating ice cream in my same failed state, and he had his own TV show. What we shared in common quickly gave way to how we were different. He adapted. While eating ice cream, his story inspired me, and I believed I could achieve weight loss success. Read his story and see if you find yourself inspired or challenged to keep going.

David Chang opened his first restaurant, Momofuku Noodle Bar, when he was 26. Food critic Peter Meehan reviewed the restaurant and hated it. David Chang was an excellent chef and knew how to cook great food. The noodle bar wasn’t working. After nine months, he would have to close the doors to his restaurant and walk away forever. The business failed, and he had one month left before closing.

Failure also brings opportunity. In the remaining days of the restaurant, David could accept defeat and quit trying or adapt and bring change to what wasn’t working. So David decided to throw out the rule book of what they were supposed to cook. He changed the idea of what an authentic noodle bar was completely.

To achieve this, he would have to go back to his roots. David admits it’s not a route he wanted to go initially.

“When you’re a younger cook, you want to learn ideas that have nothing to do with what you grew up in. And I had wanted nothing to do with Korean food, I wanted nothing to do with anything of my upbringing. And then, things come full circle, right?”

David started making food his mom made when he was growing up. It was delicious Korean food that smelled amazing but looked awful. As a teenager, it was food he didn’t want his friends to see cooking on the stove when they came over to his house. But in the final month before going out of business, it was the type of food he would be serving on plates to customers. The food maybe didn’t have the best appearance but tasted delicious. That gave him the title for his Netflix show “Ugly Delicious.”

Then David got what all of us need when it comes to trying to achieve a dream. He got a second chance. Sometimes “the quit” robs us of getting that second chance. Don’t quit, altar your approach, or change what you are doing. That’s what David did, and it paid off. He got reviewed by Peter Meehan again. Someone approached Peter and told him he should check out Momofuku Noodle Bar. Peter explained that he already tried it and did not like his experience. They told him the restaurant was different now. Peter agreed to revisit the restaurant with a one-month shelf life. The smell was amazing. The food, well, it was different. Peter asked the waitress what was simmering on the table next to him. “Pork neck bones,” she answered. Ugly delicious?  

Sept 21, 2005, Peter Meehan’s second review was published.  “Home Cooking With a Real Punch.”  The review saved the restaurant. People agreed with Peter that the food was delicious. Peter loved the food so much he went back every Saturday.

Peter and David would go on to write two cookbooks together and launch a food magazine called Lucky Peach. Peter even joins David on his TV show Ugly Delicious. This story comes from Season 1 Episode 3 when Peter joins David for Thanksgiving in the same Virginia home where he grew up.  

This time David isn’t embarrassed for his friend Peter to see what was cooking on the stove.

This story about David Chang is what I took away from Season 1 Episode 3 of “Ugly Delicious” on Netflix.

So what about you?

Avoid the quit and redefine the creative space you work in to become “internationally known with over 30+ restaurants, numerous career-defining awards, and multiple TV shows”.  

Or you could close the doors on your dream and quit.