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With five James Beard Awards to his name, Chang is one of the most visible chefs who has helped popularize Korean cuisine in the U.S.

Gowri Chandra
November 16, 2017

Listen up, people who don’t care about sports: You just got a new reason to tune into the 2018 Winter Olympics. Celeb chef and restaurant juggernaut David Chang—best known for his beloved Momofuku empire—is officially joining NBC Sports as a special correspondent ... in food. He’s going to be showcasing Korean temple cuisine, street snacks and more, in and around Pyeongchang, where the Olympics will be held.

While it might seem kind of weird for the Olympics to bring on a dedicated food expert, if anyone merits the job, it’s Chang. This is the chef who created his own shoe with Nike and named it after his restaurant. And he's no stranger to being on screen: he hosted the first season of PBS’s Mind of a Chef, which you can watch on Netflix. In it, he has adventures like visiting a noodle factory in Japan, eating fried bologna sandwiches with BFF Aziz Ansari in Montreal and foraging in a random field with other BFF Rene Redzepi in Copenhagen. 

Excitingly, Chang and NBC have already filmed two pieces in Korea, although they won’t air until the Olympics. (Followers of the chef on Instagram will remember he was there in February, eating his way through lots of banchan at Buddhist temples and Seoul restaurants.) One of the segments focuses on the contemporary imaginations of Seoul street food (think cheesy dukbokki for example) and, then, for contrast,  Korean temple cuisine, which is vegetarian and inspired by Buddhist practice. The second segment explores the famed female divers of Jeju, some of whom are in their 80s and dive 32 feet underwater—without oxygen masks—for sea urchin and abalone.

Chang told Variety, “This is one of those things that I still don’t believe has happened to me. First, it’s the Olympics. It’s this significant event that I’ve watched my entire life. Secondly, it’s happening in the country that my family originates from. I want to make sure that I deliver.” With five James Beard Awards to his name, Chang is one of the most visible chefs who has helped popularize Korean cuisine in the United States—beyond bibimbop and Korean barbecue. 

“There is no one more qualified” to introduce us to Korean cuisine than David Chang, says Jim Bell, president of NBC Olympics Production & Programming.