The Chang effect: Wooing palates, breaking hearts--- and why he left

cover-chang-fishdish0912Peter Chang's food has created a frenzy among foodies. PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO

Last fall, word that a famous Szechuan chef had quietly set up in Charlottesville had foodies salivating. There was a small newspaper mention and online chatter from groupies who track his every move, but after a March 1 story in the New Yorker, diners went into a feeding frenzy.

“We were surprised that it became so popular so fast,”says restaurant co-owner John Rong during a lunch time interview last week. “We noticed business going up after the story in the Hook, too, but when that story in the New Yorker come out..."

Indeed, sophisticated palates from Richmond and D.C. began making pilgrimages to Taste of China, where–- even on cold winter evenings–- lines could be seen snaking out onto the sidewalk of the north wing of Albemarle Square Shopping Center.

What was happening? Ever since the New York Times discovered the C&O back in 1976, Charlottesville restaurants have been making headlines. But this crossed some lines. For weeks, “Have you eaten at Taste of China yet?” was a popular refrain.

“I’ve been there at least 12 times since December,”says lawyer Ellen Teplitzky. “One week, I went there three times. And I’m not alone.”

Rong smiles and shakes his head, free to relax late on a Wednesday afternoon when just four or five tables are occupied.

In recent weeks, long waits have been typical, and on several nights the restaurant has actually run out of food. On another recent visit, the Hook saw Rong’s busy wife, Jenny, who serves as hostess, handing out little hand-written numbered tickets–- and then handing off the telephone to customers to handle the volume of incoming inquiries.

The Chang effect

As foodies waxed about Chang online, local gourmands, fearing the famed chef with a reputation for sudden departures might not last long, obediently lined up to wait over an hour for a table at the small and unremarkably decorated Chinese restaurant just off U.S. 29. Many were not first-time visitors.

Even before its official publication date of March 1, Calvin Trillin’s  “Annals of Gastronomy”article in the New Yorker began making the rounds and further mythologizing Chang by taking the point of view of his groupies, whom Trillin calls “Changians,” and who introduced him to the chef. One of the most devoted Changians is Washingtonian food critic Todd Kliman, who penned a piece for the Oxford American, none-too-subtly titled "The Perfect Chef," a 6,755-word love letter.

The two stories made much of the chef’s “mysterious” migrations from one Chinese restaurant to the next, and the lengths to which his fans would go to find him. Attempting to understand Chang's nomadic tendencies, the writers tossed out such theories as his fear of success, his dissatisfaction with working conditions, and possible immigration troubles.

Kliman admitted traveling 600 miles to eat Chang’s food, and–- by devoting nearly 7,000 words to analyzing the man, his own obsession with his food–- but like a fan frozen in the presence of his idol, he couldn’t bring himself to speak to Chang.

(Co-owner Rong believes he spotted Kliman ordering multiple dishes at a corner table, scribbling in a notebook, and lingering in the hallway with a cell phone camera near the kitchen entrance.)

cover-chang-frying0912The chef's migratory ways are legend, but he says he likes Charlottesville. PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO

When the chef emerged from the kitchen last week for an interview, Rong, two waiters, and our translator surrounded him like attaches to a foreign dignitary.

“He is best cook in China,” whispers waiter Jimmy Chang (no relation), who says he moved down here from New York City for the job. “It is a very important job the waiter has," he says, "to educate people about his food.” When Peter Chang’s wife, Hong Ying Zhang, joins the group, Jimmy is equally reverential. “She," he says, "is very famous pastry chef in China."

As the translator relates, 47-year-old Chang was born in the centrally located HuBei province of China and has won gold and silver medals in China’s “Olympics" of cooking, a national competition held every fours years.

Chang says he heard about Charlottesville from a professor friend at UVA, who told him that people here are open-minded enough to try authentic Szechuan cuisine. Chang says he is “overwhelmed” by the attention he has received in Charlottesville, especially after the two national articles appeared. The same thing tends to happen everywhere he goes, he says. Just never this quickly.

Diplomatic mission

In 2001, Chang became head chef at the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C., and after his two-year contract expired, he began wowing DC food writers at a place called China Star in Fairfax. From there, he moved to China Gourmet in Fairfax, to TemptAsian in Alexandria, to Tasty China in Marietta, Georgia, and then to Hong Kong House in Knoxville, Tennessee–- a vexatious journey to devotees like Kliman and Trillin’s dining mate, a North Carolina resident named John Binkley,who began eating at China Star in 2005 while working in DC, and whom Chang described as an “old friend.”

But Chang debunks the elaborate theories propounded by the national food writers. His jobs were simply consulting work, he tells a reporter. He says he would make each place a success, teach the cooks, and then leave. His goal was to be an “ambassador” of authentic Chinese cooking. Chang makes a similar claim in the Trillin piece, but then Trillin quotes his friend as saying it “sounded like spin.”

cover-chang-wife0912Chang's wife, Hong Ying Zhang, serves up the scallion bubble pancakes. PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO

Chang, however, insists that his “dream” is to change American perceptions of Chinese food, and he plans to use Charlottesville as his “home base” to spread his cooking knowledge to other restaurants.

In the beginning, Chang says, it was hard to spread his knowledge, which was why he moved around to different places. Now that more people know him, he believes that spreading the word will become easier.

A Taste of Chang

A word about the translator. He is Gen Lee, who, with his wife, Mary, owns Li'l Dino Subs next door, and was himself a sought-after chef. He says he and Chang are old friends from their days in Northern Virginia.

Lee explains that the mountainous Szechuan region of China is cold, wet, and foggy, and that the spicy food for which the region is known has historically served a medicinal purpose–- to raise the body temperature amid the chill. In particular, Lee mentions a special Szechuan peppercorn that Chang uses, noting that when mixed with chili peppers and other spices, it produces a flavoring known as ma la, which has a numbing effect on the mouth.

While Chang leaves to prepare a few dishes, waiter Jimmy Chang deciphers the menu, circling the authentic Peter Changs.

For example, the roast fish with green onion and the crispy beef with green onions Szechuan-style are unique Chang creations, as are the fish with cilantro rolls and the scallion bubble pancakes, the ma po bean curd, and the braised beef fillets with chili sauce.

However, the way the menu is arranged–- without any demarcation of the gems–- one could order an egg roll, fried dumplings, or sweet and sour pork and walk away wondering what all the hype was about.

Jimmy says he sometimes steers customers away from certain Chang dishes, like the braised fish fillet with hot bean sauce, which is very bony. And because the dish is so spicy as well, he often issues a warning, or as was the case recently with an elderly couple, simply refuses to serve it.

“Only brown sauce and white sauce used in American Chinese cooking,”says Jimmy, shaking his head, “They don’t make it spicy. A good chef knows how to control the heat.”

cover-chang-fish0912Indeed, when Chang’s food arrives at a reporter's table, there's a noticeable absence of heavy sauces. Gently fried pieces of flounder nestle on a bed of greens over a small latticed tray with an awning propped up with a chopstick. Crunched lightly in the mouth, they release the singular flavor of the fish.

The eggplant in one dish has remarkable bluish-purple skin, gleaming like the inside of an oyster shell, and surrounded by blood-red chili peppers. Biting into it is a completely foreign experience, as a soft interior and slightly crunchy exterior break the American eggplant mold, which usually involves deep frying–- or being baked or sauteed into submission.

A thin coat of oil, slightly bitter at first, begins to spread a film of heat across the tongue that keeps slipping to the back of the throat, while more direct spices are ignited on the lips. Very small, thin slices of potato appear in the mix, along with scallions, other greens, and the unique-looking husks of those Szechuan peppercorns. Hours after the meal, the dish lingers in the mind, the mouth having sent never-before-heard messages to the brain.

“There’s something addictive about the unusual nature of the food, of his use of spices,”says Teplitzky. “Everything is so different from any Chinese food I’ve ever had.”

cover-chang-shrimp0912Moving on, a row of finger-width cilantro fish rolls (the fish is minced into very tiny pieces) maintain a crispness and perfumic flavor so subtle that it becomes hard to think of a comparison–- maybe phyllo dough without the sweetness, but a little bit stiffer and less oily? A hot pot burns under a saut©ed shrimp dish laced with jalape±os, by far the spiciest selection, just long enough to keep it steaming throughout the meal. And until we ripped into them, the beautiful scallion bubble pancakes seemed to be defying gravity, puffed up like two golden blowfish.

We begin to understand what Kliman took so many words to say, that truly exceptional cuisine can haunt. And to think Chang is planning to make Charlottesville his home base. It sounds just too good to be true.

Making adjustments

Later, next door at Li'l Dino Subs, Gen Lee shows us certificates and letters from Chin Chin in Santa Monica, Caesar’s Palace, and the Trump Plaza that verify his own past as a successful Chinese chef before retirement made him seek something less demanding than working as a professional chef.

“People ask why I’m doing this,”laughs Lee. “This place is easy, and the sandwiches are good.”

“Peter [Chang] comes here for lunch, and we talk about cooking,” says Lee. “Once you are a cooking manager or a chef, you can’t stop. We talk until one in the morning about food, always talking about making adjustments, always making adjustments.”

Four days later, Chang left Taste of China.

Chang changes his mind

cover-chang-exterior0912Will Taste of China continue without the tastes of Chang? PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO

When we arrive for dinner at Taste of China on Sunday night, March 21, there is a note taped to the door saying the restaurant is closed. Another group arrives at the same time saying they’ve driven all the way from Richmond, only to get the bad news.

By Monday, March 22, Rong has re-opened and explained that Chang had left “temporarily” and will be back in three or four months, but that in the meantime the chefs that Chang has trained will still be cooking “the Peter Chang way.”

But when we manage to track down Chang and his wife through Gen Lee, the chef–- over coffee at the Starbucks across from Fashion Square Mall–- tells a different story. There has been a falling out with the Rongs, Chang says, and he won't be returning.

Still speaking through translator Lee, Chang says the small business had become so overwhelmed by the attention that the quality of the food and the service began to suffer, and it was becoming “embarrassing” to him. Chang wanted to scale back and slow down, or perhaps find a larger space, but the Rongs didn’t agree. They wanted to keep a good thing going, Chang says, and believed they could run the restaurant without him.

“For a chef like Chang, when he’s cooking for many people, it’s like fighting a war,” says Lee. “He did not want to risk damaging his reputation.”

Glancing at the chef’s hands, a reporter notices that they are covered with cuts and small burns, wounds from having served so many frenzied foodies for the last six months.

“This is a disaster,” declares Teplitzsky, who says she had planned on meeting friends there Tuesday night. “My heart sank when I found out. I felt robbed, betrayed. Why did he have to leave?”

Chang now says he wants to create a concept restaurant with some investors he’s lined up, so he can “do it right” and finally stop his wandering ways. In fact, Chang says, he wants to create a chain of Chang-concept restaurants, with distinct Chang-style menus, where he can control the quality and service.

Clearly, Chang is aware of his growing name recognition, but does he still plan to stay in Charlottesville?

“He would like to, but he doesn’t know,” says Lee, adding that he is now Chang’s informal partner. “But he is hoping to open another place in Virginia in about three or four months.”

"This is so difficult," said Teplitzsky when she hears the details. "Do we go in and try the new guys, or follow Chang and suffer?"

53 comments

look what's happened with mas? like, it's delicious?

I agree with Andy. I thought the Oxford American article was really over the top, so much so that it became unreadable at a certain point. It did not make me want to try Chef Chang's food.

I don't want to be misunderstood either- it was definitely the best Chinese food around here ever. I'm sorry he's gone. I just find the hype over-the-top.

I hear that Chang secretly has a deal to work with Olive Garden on a new concept created just for Charlottesville and that's why he left the last place.

So what is the best Chinese/Asian restaurant in Charlottesville now?

Curse you, Calvin Trillin

Chinese food can be roughly divided into eight regional cuisines, but there are also many other relatively less famous local area cuisines like shanghai cuisine, xinjiang cuisine, beijing cuisine, guizhou cuisine etc

eight big regional cuisines are: Shandong Cuisine, Sichuan Cuisine ,Guangdong Cuisine, Fujian Cuisine, Jiangsu Cuisine, Zhejiang Cuisine, Hunan cuisine ,Anhui Cuisine . Chef Chang’s food is mostly Sichuan style. As a Chinese who devotes her big chunk of daily passion to food I think Chef Jiang ââ?¬Ë?s food is deadly normal. Most food are over salted, over fried and not visually beautiful. Yet I still go to TofC at least once a week, why? Because this is the only authentic Chinese food in Cville. Just like my American husband went to McDonalds once a week when he was living in China because that’s something reminded him his home country and as soon as we moved back to US several years ago he hasn’t gone to McDonalds once. If I am in China now I will not go to TofC at all because I will not waste my money and taste bud on something just so so but in Cville ââ?¬Ë?McDonalds’ is as good as it can be.

I just ate at Chang's new spot. It is in Wolftown. I'm not sayin where. Get hep or stay stoopid.

The only thing that makes the food here special is that it is authentic. American Chinese food is not Chinese food. In Shanghai, Taste of China would be a mediocre restaurant...edible but not in the least bit outstanding. Anyone that raves about the food here has very limited experience with real Chinese food. That said, if you have never tasted authentic Chinese food or if you crave it, it is nice to have somewhere local to go.

Oh, one other thing, I forgot to mention that that Oxford American article was just ridiculous. Just such over-the-top, sycophantic sucking up. I'd be very surprised if the author had ever had real Chinese food. I guess if you're used to beef broccoli and chicken chow mein that changes your perspective and we get stuff like:

"This was the Chef Chang I had created in my imagination, in lieu of actual knowledge of the actual Chef Chang. A chef with poetry in his soul, a romantic figure who yearned to break free of all that constrained him, including the limits of his own imagination."

Really, give me a break. My favorite passage, god what a chump:
"He did not come out. It was okay. I understood. Maybe it was better this way. Not through talk; through taste. I did not come to Charlottesville for a meeting of the minds. I had come to Charlottesville because his food was a part of my life. His tastes had become my tastes. Where he went, I followed. I dug into a mound of cleavered chicken with peppers. My mouth went numb. Tears rolled down my cheeks."

"If I am in China now I will not go to TofC at all because I will not waste my money and taste bud on something just so so but in Cville ââ?¬Ë?McDonalds’ is as good as it can be."

Well if you are in China now, how the hell would you go to Taste of China in Charlottesville anyway? Unless you can somehow figure out the space time continuum, of course! :) Just giving you a hard time Mrs. RB. I enjoy the place, since I live here and not DC, San Fran or NY. It's fine and dandy. It's freaking Charlottesville for gods sake. A town of 40 thousand, 20 thousand students, and also a little more than 110 thousand (or so) Albemarle County citizens. It's not Paris. It's a tiny town. TOC does not suck so bad when you think about where we actually live. Right?

In Ruckersville we don't "take advantage of our food". Mr. Chang has relocated to the "Crossroads of North-East Dixie to escape people like you. He is ours now...

Chang comes he cooks then
darts away like a red dragonfly
leaves only great hunger

Chang is the perfect chef, but running after him will not be easy, just as it was not. 6 different restaurants in 4 years, and now 7 in 4 and a half, what will following these? Who knows, maybe not even Chang himself. But it is lucky enough for us that he has been here in c'vill and hope, as Karl mentioned, the staff that Chang trained can keep doing a good job.

I hear that Chang is in Ruckersville.

Too much hype in this town about everything including itself. Ive eaten there, not bad, not the best but Im not an elitist celebrity like so many here in town, Im just a regular person without an entourage. I think people in New York come here and only see one side of this town, the rich, pampered side they feel comfortable in, not the homeless, coal tower, along the railroad tracks side of this town. They somehow seem to ignore all the homeless people on the downtown mall while they are dining on sushi and Grey Goose Martinis. Get over your terrible loss, Im sure you will still be able to go out to eat at any restaraunt you choose, while the poor people in this town, which you ignore, will eat your left overs from the trash cans behind the famous restaraunts.

Damn, waited too long.

Er, um, darn, I waited too long.

Sure hope he stays in the community. He could open anywhere he'd like, determine the days and hours, and any other conditions and I'll bet he'd be a success.

Ok, so I just couldn't stay away. The cravings won out, and I returned tonight to see how TofC is faring without Mr Chang at the helm. The staff seemed a little anxious, and asked a few times if I thought everything was ok, and sure enough, it is. Everything sampled was delicious and unchanged from how it tasted on previous visits. So with a sigh of relief I am still recommending that people go and enjoy the most amazing Chinese food on offer in C'ville. I guess Mr Chang taught his staff well. Don't miss the dry fried eggplant, or the crispy spicy duck, or those fish and cilantro rolls and the... well, never mind, I'll stop there. Go sample it all!

Jenny, you say Chang was good, not great and "People need to get out more." Where specifically do you recommend?

Nobody said TOC sucked. But for anyone who has been to China and had real Chinese food, the hype is silly.

I actually still think it's pretty good

My wife and I returned tonight, and found the food to still be outstanding. Had cold noodles w' chili sauce to start, followed by crispy shrimp w/ scallion & chilis, ma po tofu and braised fish with bean sauce. It was great. The food was indistinguishable from when Chef Chang was in residence.

The staff actually seems more relaxed and attentive, albeit a bit nervous.

I look at it this way: If you go to any of, let's say, Mario Batali's restaurants, what are the chances of him actually cooking for you? Slim to none, and the same is the case with any celeb chef. But, that's not the point. The sign of a truly outstanding kitchen is how the food tastes when the chef is NOT there. When I go to MAS, I never worry about whether Tomas Rahal is actually there, because of the way he has trained and drilled his staff.

I think you may end up seeing another aspect of the "Chang Effect," namely the legacy in knowledge and technique he's left behind at ToC. If the Rongs are wise, they'll maintain this level of cooking.

I go twice. Special not very special. As person from China, it not authentic, it not good. Stu pid Charlottesville people don't know head from r ear end.

Hopefully Mr. Chang will be able to get some new venue started here that works. Hey, the Hook did it after the split with the C'ville!

According to this post on Friday (3/26), he's back in Atlanta:
http://www.atlantacuisine.com/2010/03/peter-chang-is-back/

"The most electrifying chef to ever cook in the Atlanta market was Peter Chang."

Wow, what a sad state of affairs they have in Atlanta if that's true.

You can get a copy of this for about $5 and do it yourself. http://www.amazon.com/Mrs-Chiangs-Szechwan-Cookbook-Cooking/dp/006015828X

I hear that Chang is cooking in Scottsville

I didn't know that Marietta had moved from Georgia to North Carolina. I guess that's what happens when you leave Georgia. Now, being one of those Changians who was in the original party when Calvin Trillin was in C'ville (and I just happen to have been born in C'ville so I know all about the homeless on Star Hill), Peter Chang has complete control over the food he cooks. The first lunch wasn't very spicy (and ma la means spicy and numbing, btw) but on our return, after we specifically told both Joe R. and Peter that we wanted ma la, we got ma la. Sublime flavors, amazing tastes. I'm not sure who the person was who said that Peter Chang isn't a very good chef, but I don't think they have any idea what they're talking about. I guess it's time to go looking again. Food like Peter Chang's comes along very rarely, you have to take advantage of it.

NOVA friends who went to Change's places in Fairfax and Alexandria tell me that after he leaves, the abandoned restruarant stays very good foe few weeks, and then begins its inevitable decline back to standard Ameri-nese mediocrity. By Mother's Day, Taste of China will be no beter than China King Buffet. When you lose the chef, you lose the force that drives a place to ecellence. Look what's happend with Mas since Tomas stopped working there. Is Change really in Ruckersville? If so, it now has both the best Asian food and the best BBQ (Hog Heaven) in central Va.

Should have known something was up when I went this week and saw they removed all the authentic noodle options from the lunch specials. All they offer now is chow mein.

mas has been recycling the same tired menu for years. When it started there seemed to be some variation. I used to wonder what new things would be available. Not any longer. Now I know when I go exactly what will be there. In a word: boooooring

It's still the cool, hip(ster) place to be, but it's running on reputation now, not on the freshness of the menu.

I'm so glad I read about this restaurant back in December and had the good fortunes of dining there three or four times before he left. Thanks for the experience; can't wait to see how things work out in the future! This chef could definitely fill a large restaurant and I hope he has many apprentices to carry on the tradition.

I am kind of tired of people stirring up online and raving about Taste of China. Most people probably don't even know that the restaurant is based on traditional Sichuan cuisine but the chef isn't even a Sichuan native. This types of restaurants are everywhere in bigger cities like NYC or SF. The reason why Peter Chang opened a restaurant in Cville is because people here had never tasted such unique flavors before, especially for the tongue numbing Sichuan peppercorn. As a Sichuan native, I think the food is good but not great. Some of the dishes were prepared wrong. One of the signature Sichuan style chicken dishes should have been poached instead of boiled.

So people, stop creating unnecessary frenzy. Go enjoy Taste of China for what it really worth. A nice taste of home for Sichuaness and a good restaurant for adventures eaters and pepper lovers.

So, Jenny if you aren't from Italy you can't be an amazing Italian food chef? WTF? Where you are from does not mean a hill of beans about your ability as a certain kind of chef...

Gave Tof C a post-Chang try last night, and the quality is already slipping. Cold chili noodles and fried dumplings had dropped in quality (Chang's wife made them before, and now someone else does), scallion pancakes were heavier and greasier, contrast between crips and soft wasn't as dramatic in egg plant, but crispy beef and shrimp were still top notch. It's still the best C food in town, but that aint saying much. Chang is indeed a superior chef -- I've had C food in LA, SF, NYC, Honolulu, Seattle, and London, and none was better than his (although he does not do dim sum, which I miss). He's not merely great by Cville standards -- his awards are from China, after all. He was the best in DC and Atlanta before coming here, and those are not culinary backwaters. As for Mas, if you think it's great now, you should have gone when Tomas ran it, and would happily take the time to explain how he got his bread to do what it did (it don't do it no more, coz he aint there to do it).

This types of restaurants are everywhere in bigger cities like NYC or SF. The reason why Peter Chang opened a restaurant in Cville is because people here had never tasted such unique flavors before, especially for the tongue numbing Sichuan peppercorn.
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Oh, that explains the extensive write-ups in the New Yorker and Oxford American. I guess Calvin Trillin is a provincial hack.

WBF, he's certainly not a great food critic. He likes food and he's written some books about traveling and eating, but so what? That doesn't mean he knows a ton about real Chinese food. Peter Chang's a good chef, especially for someone around here but to anyone that's eaten real Chinese food in China the hype seems more than a little silly.

Also, your appeal to authority is pretty weak.

MTT, maybe I didn't get my point across clearly. Most people go to Taste of China because of the hype. It's a cool thing to do to follow this "disappearing chef". It annoys the hell out of me when I try to have a little taste of home but couldn't get into the place at 6:30 at night because all these so called foodies. I totally agree with what Andy said above. Of course he can be a good Sichuan chef even if he's not from Sichuan. But I can certainly tell you that a mid-level chef in Sichuan can do as good if not better than Peter Chang. People need to get out more.

It was the best chinese food around and for most cities this size. It was overhyped and the guy for the Oxford American was myth making or stalking, I really can't tell.

All that said their lunch was sublime for $6.95- There wasn't a better lunch for the money anywhere in town. Probably should have charged more, that would have reduced the stress, the crowds and the tension.

I went twice, once for dinner, once for lunch. Yes, the seasonings were unique, but ToC wouldn't make my top 25 restaurants, and probably not even my top 10 of ethnics. No better than P.F. Changs, though different. Ridiculous expectations on the part of so many killed it. I won't miss it, I'd rather dig in to the lunch at Milan, anyway.

The best regional food in the area is: The Thomas House, in Dayton.

There is a space in the stirp mal on Pantops with a large banner in front of it reading, "Chinese Restaurant Coming Soon." Could this be Chang's next move?

Taste of China is an inexpensive restaurant. Seems that if Chang was worthy of the hype it would be simple to double the prices, halve the crowds and do just fine with the reduced work load. There must be more to this story than anyone is telling.

Looks like his effort to find a new locale in Atlanta is on ice (for a year), and he's headimng back to va for a spell (but maybe Richmond). His former patrons at tasty China in Marrietta all thought he was cooking there agian this last weekend, but he wasn't, and doesn't plan to stay there while they find new Atlanta digs. Wish he'd come back to Cville instead of Richmond, but then again if he goes to Richmond there will finally be one decent place to eat there. In the mean time, anyone got a clue about the name of the Thai restaurant in Nelson County that Calvin trillin mentioned in his NYer piece?

Try Korea House, close enough. Anyway, what's so wrong with China King Buffet? At least everything is not swimming in the brown gravy.

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Blame the New Yorker all that you want, but you guys definitely contributed to the change and loss as well.

Thanks for the great article and interview, Dave. This is truly Charlottesville's loss, but I'm glad that Chang kept his integrity as a chef. His food was delicious, and spoke volumes about how much he cared.

Patsy, The Hook is a local magazine that reported on a new local restaurant. They never hyped Chang in the way that the New Yorker and Oxford American did. Why does any blame need to be cast at all? It's just a shame that Chang didn't stay longer.

good to hear Ellen and Karl. I've been there 4 or 5 times the last couple of months and my mother is visiting soon; she really wants to check it out.

Those cilantro fish rolls are just too, too yummy and that eggplant!

O.M.G.

Not sure if having Chang's new business partner translate his take on his differences with his former one violates any journalistic ethics or not, but I hope you got the Rong's to explain their side of the situation before you ran the story.