The best restaurant kitchens are filled with exceptional cooks, or are meant to be. This is particularly the case in the kitchens run by Chang, whose restless, inventive cooking requires a great deal of skill and training. You cannot stuff mushroom caps in a sports bar and then expect to get a job working for him straight out of culinary school. (You can try!) But hacks will still sometimes get in the door, just as they do in every game: craftsmen rather than artists, regular joes, people exactly like most of us.
For them, perhaps (for us, for sure!), recipes like Chang’s bo ssam are a godsend. They make any cook appear to be better than he or she really is, elevating average kitchen skills into something that approaches alchemy. Tell no one how easy this all turns out to be, though. Simply cook the food and serve it and watch as those at your table devour the meat in a kind of trance.
I appreciate this Bo Ssam recipe (and nuanced commentary in the accompanying story). But I do have one minor nit. Sifton suggests that David Chang's kitchens are filled with only the most inventive and trained chefs, but I'm not entirely sure that's the case. One of the things I love about the Momofuku restaurants is that I get the feeling that everyone who works there — bartenders, folks behind the register, and waiters — all embody and promote a culture of enthusiasm for the food and passion for doing things the right way. You'd no sooner have a fork out of alignment or have a dirty plate on the table too long than get a dry bo ssam. I don't think that's the result of a strict resume filter, it's because Chang & his lieutenant's have a strong defined culture & hire people who fit that culture and have the ability to grow within & without it. It's a subtle difference, but it's an important one.