One of Momofuku’s Top Chefs Is Leaving the Restaurant Group

One of Momofuku’s high stars and one of the few girls to be named an government chef at the acclaimed restaurant group is leaving. Chef Eunjo Park, broadly recognized for launching the instantaneous hit Kāwi in Hudson Yards, is departing the firm 4 months after taking up the Ssäm Bar reboot at the South Street Seaport. She will probably be changed by present Noodle Bar at Columbus Circle chef de delicacies Kris Brumsted, Momofuku has confirmed. Park’s final service at Ssäm Bar is Saturday, September 4.

“We’re sad to confirm that chef Eunjo Park is leaving Momofuku,” an organization spokesperson mentioned in an emailed assertion. “Jo has been a force at Momofuku, from her days at Ko to opening Kāwi to taking over Ssäm Bar. She is taking time to care for herself physically and mentally. The well-being of our chefs is most important to us and we support her completely.”

Park is a celebrated chef answerable for spearheading the short-lived but critically acclaimed fashionable Korean spot Momofuku Kāwi at Hudson Yards. The restaurant, which opened 10 months earlier than the pandemic hit, was declared “a bright spot in the mall’s otherwise bleak dining landscape” by Eater critic Ryan Sutton, whereas New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells showered reward on the restaurant in an early two-star evaluation. Previously, Park had frolicked cooking in different high nice eating spots together with Momofuku Ko and Per Se in New York and Gaon in Seoul, South Korea. Park didn’t return requests for remark for this story.

In the midst of the pandemic, Kāwi stayed darkish for over a yr — like many of Hudson Yards’ eating places — earlier than shuttering for good final March. Momofuku then introduced that Park could be shifting on to guide the kitchen at Ssäm Bar, one of the restaurant group’s early crown jewels, which was relocating from its unique East Village spot to the swanky South Street Seaport growth.

Outdoor tables sit nearby the East River at Momofuku Ssam Bar

The new Ssäm Bar at the South Street Seaport
Adrian Gaut/Momofuku

The reboot, which opened in April, has not been off to a clean begin. The restaurant — recognized for its brash and impressive lineup of small plates and a rollicking bo ssam — was a shell of its former self in its new, mall-esque location, Eater critic Sutton discovered this summer season. Park had opened Ssäm Bar with ingenious kimbaps and rice desserts, each of which earned her acclaim at Kāwi, however the dishes both disappeared off the menu or fell flat at the new location. Park needed to scrap the kimbaps as a result of staffing shortages, and changed them with gadgets that missed the mark, together with a “flavorless” beef tartare that was “like eating nothing wrapped in herbs for $29,” Sutton wrote. The rice desserts, initially provided in a number of preparations, had been whittled down to at least one $48 truffled cacio e pepe choice likened to “a tasty but middle-of-the-road mac and cheese” whereas the popcorn shrimp “appear to be cribbed from a local Tao.” (The cacio e pepe rice desserts at the moment are $32, in line with the restaurant’s latest menu.)

A Momofuku consultant informed Eater at the time of the evaluation in July that the restaurant was nonetheless evolving, and would add again extra dishes after extra staffers had been employed. They additionally plan to launch tabletop grilling and put extra vegetarian choices on the menu.

Ssäm Bar isn’t the solely restaurant weathering adjustments in the Momofuku empire. Veteran Ko chef Sean Alex Gray left the long-running tasting menu restaurant in May after over a decade and was changed by incoming government chef Esther Ha, who beforehand labored as the restaurant for 4 years. Celebrated Sydney restaurant Momofuku Seiobo, helmed by praised chef Paul Carmichael, closed in June. Many of the firm’s fried hen chain Fuku’s bodily places are usually not open in NYC — with the exception of a store in Hudson Yards — and the model now operates nearly solely out of delivery-only ghost kitchens. Founder David Chang was embroiled in his own controversy as staffers had been calling out poisonous office conduct in kitchens throughout the nation throughout the pandemic.

As Park departs, former Noodle Bar chef de delicacies Brumsted has been put in as the subsequent chief of the restaurant. Brumsted is a Momofuku veteran; previous to his stint at the Columbus Circle Noodle Bar, he was the chef de delicacies at Momofuku’s five-year-old D.C. restaurant, the lauded CCDC, which shut down completely in May 2020.

“We’re excited that chef Kris Brumsted is taking over the kitchen at Ssäm Bar,” the firm spokesperson mentioned. “He’s been with us since day one at Momofuku CCDC and moved to New York to run the kitchen at Noodle Bar Uptown. In his new role, he’ll be working closely with former Ssäm Bar executive chef and current Momofuku culinary director Max Ng to shape the future of the menu.”

Update, 4:45 p.m.: Due to an error in info disclosed by Momofuku, an earlier model of this story recognized Eunjo Park as the first girl to guide a restaurant with the firm. That is wrong. That designation, in line with the firm spokesperson, goes to Paula Navarrete, beforehand the government chef at Momofuku Kojin and Momofuku Daisho in Toronto. Eater regrets the error.

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