David Chang, the chef and owner of the four Momofuku restaurants in New York City, is the most celebrated young cook in America. Chang’s food, with its blend of French technique and Asian flavors, is not merely delicious: it is delicious in an entirely new way.

After training at the French Culinary Institute and high-end New York restaurants like Craft and Mercer Kitchen, Chang moved to Japan, where he worked in ramen and soba shops. During this time he had an epiphany that became his core philosophy: exciting, inventive food need not be expensive. His first restaurant, Momofuku Noodle Bar, caught on first among fellow chefs but soon earned critical acclaim and legions of passionate fans for its aggressive, adventurous cuisine and low prices. Chang then opened Momofuku Ssäm Bar and, earlier this year, Momofuku Ko. Only 31 years old, he has already been nominated three times for a James Beard Foundation Award, the food industry’s highest honor. In 2007, he was named the Beard Foundation’s Rising Star Chef of the Year.