Standing Ovation

Why the Moth Rocked

Food stories, tough and tender.
Food stories, tough and tender. Photo: Demis Maryannakis/Splash News

Last night, six loquacious food lovers took the stage at Cooper Union to kick off New York’s coolest storytelling series, the Moth. The focus of the night was food, but not your average, recycled foodie banter. No, the stories, told without notes and for approximately ten minutes each, had heart, soul, and — in emcee Padma Lakshmi’s case — a bit of indigestion.

Revealing her wonderfully crude and kooky side, Padma greeted the crowd with a “turn off your goddamn phones,” because “your booty call is not going to call before ten!” And then excused herself, saying, “I have to burp,” blaming Thai food. She proceeded to tell an unscripted tale about her childhood fascination with the New York hot dog, which, as a “lotus-eating little Hindu,” she thought was “a boiled part of a dog’s anatomy.”

Next up, David Chang, who was perhaps the most subdued (and endearingly nervous!) storyteller of the night, reminiscing about the evening former Michelin director Jean-Luc Naret came in to Momofuku Ko and asked him something “that messed me up in the head forever.” The question? “David, you have two stars. Do you want three Michelin stars?” Chang thought to himself, “In reality, I don’t even think we deserve two stars!”

But the star of the collectively outstanding show was Steve Osborne, a former NYPD cop who recalled the morning of 9/11, when his wife begged him to take a sandwich before running toward the burning towers, and how days later, a free McDonald’s Happy Meal, with a note inside reading “You’re my hero,” transformed him from cop into human. Bravo.

Why the Moth Rocked