Ramen is Dead aka The Poisoned Shortcut

People complain about food and restaurants becoming more and more uniform. It’s because there’s no more thirst for knowledge, no catalyst for imagination or reason to try to create new and different things anymore. People still want to know things, but now they can find the answers with barely any effort.
— David Chang

For those who do not know David Chang, he is the reason proper ramen (aka not Top Ramen or Maruchan) hit the culinary world over the past few years. He started Momofuku noodle bar in a hole in the wall in NYC in 2004 and built a culinary empire spanning 18 restaurants and 3 countries.  His cookbook, Momofuku (which I highly recommend), tells the story of man so obsessed about noodles that he would move to Japan to study how to make and risk his life savings to open his first restaurant. Consequently, I was surprised to see him declare ramen's death and pin the blame on the internet.  

Initially, I saw Chang's statement as understandable sour grapes. He risked everything and succeeded. Now he sees people grabbing onto the coat tails of a trend he created and poorly copying his creation without any understanding of the food. Chang blazed a trail and now the hordes of tourists have descended upon it ruining the beauty formerly on offer. I get it. I can only imagine the frustration of seeing chefs merely copy your idea rather than use it as a starting point from which to innovate something new. However, I think this is a problem inherent with people magnified by the internet and not create by the internet.

The root problem is casino games have better odds than financial success in the creative pursuits especially in the short term. In the face of this reality, the allure of copying the successful in your industry is undeniable. You immediately bypass all the experimentation required to acquire a good idea. However, the shortcut leaves you without all the knowledge gained throughout the process. The idea hangs alone with no context or any idea lineage rendering evolution almost impossible. Eventually, the trend will move on leaving you helpless. These poisoned shortcut trades potential long term success for the short term.