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Shake-Ups in Momofuku Empire Point to Big Plans

Chef shifts and an expansion-in-progress

Max Ng will be the new head chef of Ssam Bar.
Melissa McCart is the editor for Eater New York.

More changes in the growing Momofuku empire: David Chang has moved Max Ng from Ko to take the executive chef spot at Ssam Bar, while chefs Matthew Rudofker and Joshua Pinsky have been promoted to oversee culinary development and operations for all Momofuku restaurants in New York, Toronto, D.C., Vegas, and LA. It’s a big move for everyone, especially Rudofker, who has been key in maintaining Ssam Bar as a serious restaurant.

Rudofker, who will oversee the operations of all current restaurants and new projects, started working for Momofuku in 2010 as a sous, has been executive chef at Ssam Bar since 2014, and was executive chef of Má Pêche in 2015. For the past two years, he was a finalist for Rising Star Chef for the James Beard Awards. Pinsky, who will work with Momofuku chefs on the culinary development of all new and existing Momofuku restaurants, had been running Nishi since it opened, and was chef de cuisine at Ko since 2015. He’s been working for the group since 2012.

Meanwhile, Ng, originally from Singapore, moved to New York specifically to work for Momofuku, first as a CIA extern at Ssam Bar, then to Ko, where he rose from commis to chef de cuisine.

The changes come after Alex Munoz-Suarez took the reins in April as the president of Momofuku Holdings to run the restaurants nationwide. Most recently, he was the chief operating officer at The One Group, overseeing businesses like Bagatelle and the Gansevoort, and before that, he was helping Batali & Bastianich Hospitality group grow over a 13-year stretch. Late last year, Momofuku Holdings also took on a a new investor, Related Companies chairman Stephen M. Ross.

Also in progress: Ko’s expansion, with more seats at the bar to accommodate the less expensive menu. The restaurant at 4-8 Extra Place is expanding to the building next door, which will usher in a bigger waiting area, six or seven more tables, and an expanded bar/chef counter by about 14 seats.

It’s a move that gives more responsibility to executive chef Sean Gray who’s been with Chang for over ten years as well as general manager Su Wong Ruiz who has worked for him for six years.

Last year was not an easy one for Chang, with Ando’s troubles and the “deeply flawed” Nishi reviews. By the end of the year, his longtime business partner Andrew Salmon took on a less critical role, dropping from president of the company to advisor to Milk Bar, with Chang hiring people with more corporate experience.

Momofuku Ssäm Bar

207 2nd Avenue, Manhattan, NY 10003 (212) 254-3500 Visit Website

Momofuku Ko

8 Extra Place, Manhattan, NY 10003 (212) 203-8095 Visit Website

Má Pêche

15 West 56th Street, New York, NY 10019 Visit Website