In 2009, David Chang, owner and chef of Momofuku, hit the streets of New York City to eat and drink with Vice Media. The ensuing video, which sees Chang plowing through fried chicken in Koreatown and preparing his famous pork buns for late night revelers, was the first in a series called Munchies, which documents what famous chefs eat and drink during boozy nights on the town. The videos were such a success that Vice eventually launched Munchies, a food website and media channel, in 2014. Now, Munchies is forging new ground with the announcement of a three-book print cookbook deal with Ten Speed Press, with senior editor Emily Timberlake editing.
The first book, Munchies: Late-Night Meals from the World's Best Chefs, by J.J. Goode, Munchies editor-in-chief Helen Hollyman, and the editors of Munchies, is due out in fall 2017. The book is based on the Munchies web series (since rechristened as Chef's Night Out), and features stories of chefs’ debauchery, as well as their go-to recipes to soak up alcohol.
When asked why Munchies, and Vice Media, which courts a digital, Millennial audience, decided to make the foray into print, Munchies publisher John Martin said the online content actually pushed them in the direction of a cookbook. “We discovered that people were spending a really large amount of time on each page in the recipe section on Munchies, which means people were actually cooking from our recipes,” said Martin. “We view books as a platform, and if it’s one that our audience is on, we’ll produce for it. It’s a natural and smart brand extension, and in the food world a book is a real sign of having arrived.”
With close to 150 videos in the Chef’s Night Out series, the source material was in place. The book will include recipes and tales from 65 top chefs, including Anthony Bourdain, Dominique Crenn, Chang, Danny Bowien, Wylie Dufresne, and Enrique Olvera. San Francisco chef Brandon Jew's fried fish sandwich is inspired by the McDonald's Filet-o-Fish, a meal that “reminded him of his grandparents and their times at Micky D's,” according to Hollyman. “Only this filet o' fish has a beer batter that fries up to an airy crunch, a crisp slaw, and a tangy seaweed spiked tartar sauce.” There's more involved dishes, like Dufresne's Gemelli Pasta with Peas, Chicken, and Mushrooms, or Tien Ho's Lemongrass and Thai Basil Pork Pie (a Vietnamese inspired meat pie).
The book will be promoted through all of the Munchies platforms, and will be teased through trailers on the site’s YouTube channel, which Martin estimates will have roughly 2 million subscribers come launch. “You’ll see a print ad in Vice magazine, and our staff, talent and friends will all be promoting on their socials too,” said Martin. “We’re pretty good like that as a company, when we have a major announcement, everyone pulls together to promote the hell out of it. There are some fun contests and launch events planned too. We do like to party.”