Hans Vo­gels

National Post (Latest Edition) - - SATURDAY FEATURE - Week­end Post

Hans Vo­gels had a hell of a week at the pass. The chef de cui­sine at Mo­mo­fuku’s ground-floor Noo­dle Bar in Toronto found his restau­rant trans­formed by a fes­ti­val-long takeover by AT&T and Direc­tTV into the un­of­fi­cial ful­crum of celebrity tu­mult: stars of ev­ery mag­ni­tude de­scended upon the din­ing room to savour David Chang’s fa­mous ra­men, while bar­na­cles of agents, man­agers, pub­li­cists and press thronged ev­ery pre­cious cu­bic inch of avail­able space. The or­derly, stream­lined kitchen was reimag­ined as culi­nary pan­de­mo­nium. “We — or maybe just I — un­der­es­ti­mated how crazy it was go­ing to be,” Vo­gels con­fesses to­ward the end of the mad­ness. “It was wild.”

Vo­gels was wor­ried, go­ing into the fes­ti­val, that its high-pro­file at­ten­dees wouldn’t take to the Noo­dle Bar menu. Call it a mat­ter of pre­con­cep­tions: “We know this is a big event for L.A. peo­ple,” he says. “A lot of those types we fig­ured are all on these carrot-only di­ets, or that they don’t eat at all — or cer­tainly wouldn’t want to eat what Noo­dle Bar spe­cial­izes in. We make un­apolo­get­i­cally heavy food here. We’re a restau­rant that makes pork and ra­men and fried chicken. So we thought the week would be hor­ri­ble.” They even de­vised ad­di­tions to the bill of fare with these as­sump­tions in mind. “We made a salad,” he laughs. “Noo­dle Bar never makes sal­ads. It’s against our man­date to make any­thing healthy.”

But what Vo­gels found, to his sur­prise, was that the celebs went wild for the good stuff — and vir­tu­ally no one at all ques­tioned or com­plained. “We had no­body ask­ing how many calo­ries was in this or that, no­body de­mand­ing wild sub­sti­tu­tions. They ate a lot pork buns. They ate a lot of ra­men. They ate a lot of fried chicken. It didn’t mat­ter what our per­cep­tions were. We thought they’re from Hol­ly­wood, so they’re gonna want this or that. Well, we found out that’s just not true.”

Which taught Vo­gels an im­por­tant les­son. “De­li­cious food is gonna win ev­ery time no mat­ter what,” he con­cludes. “Ge­orge Clooney wants good-tast­ing food. He doesn’t want fancy food. He’s not send­ing any­thing back be­cause it’s not served on a sil­ver plat­ter. He just wants some­thing de­li­cious.” (Clooney did in­deed en­joy the Noo­dle Bar menu, re­port­edly.) “One thing I’ve re­al­ized over the last cou­ple of days is that these fa­mous peo­ple in the restau­rant are just peo­ple that are hun­gry. And peo­ple that are hun­gry want to eat good food — it doesn’t mat­ter who they are.”

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