But Mr. Chang, the 33-year-old chef and owner of the Momofuku Restaurant Group, thought becoming a television star was a terrible idea, regardless of the potential payoff.
"I think that changes your life in a way I am not interested in," he said. "It's great for the people who can do it, but the whole thought of it made me cringe."
But that doesn't mean he and his collaborator, the writer Peter Meehan, weren't interested in branching out. Back in 2008, they produced a 16-page food section in Panorama, a 320-page one-shot newspaper published in San Francisco by McSweeney's with a whopping price of $16.
That project led to talk of an iPad app that would feature all manner of video, recipes and digital what-not. But the more Mr. Meehan discussed the idea with Chris Ying, an editor at McSweeney's, the more they discussed, get this, a magazine.
On the list of things the world needs more of, a food magazine would seem to rank lower than producer-confected pop starlets. Remember that the print edition of Gourmet, a beloved Condé Nast magazine run by Ruth Reichl, folded in 2009, to the gasps of many. And as Rachael Ray, Martha Stewart and the Food Network have projected their brands into print, there wouldn't seem to be a runway for another food magazine, even Mr. Chang's idiosyncratic reinterpretations of Asian street fare.
That app is still in the lab.
And yet in June we got the first issue of Lucky Peach, named for the English translation of momofuku, a quarterly magazine that weighs in at 174 pages with nary an ad in sight and a price of $10.
It breaks many of the conventions not only of food journalism, but of magazine journalism in general. The glamorous star on the cover? It's a chicken being lowered into a pot with its wrinkly backside depicted squirting out graphic eggs. The so-called front of the book - which in most magazines is filled with infographics and breezy snippets - is filled with a trippy, 9,000-word, rambling eat-a-logue through Japan by Mr. Meehan and Mr. Chang.
And while most food magazines use tiny recipes and glossy photos to expose readers to as many cuisines as possible, Lucky Peach is planning single-themed issues. Some of the graphics look as if they were conjured in a tattoo parlor - rugged, expressive and streetwise, with a gallery of the pantheon of ramen heroes rendered in black-and-white woodcut.
The magazine is printed on thick matte paper, not glossy, and mixes the divine - an essay on authenticity by Todd Kliman - with the profane - an alcohol-infused verbal fist-fight among Mr. Chang, Anthony Bourdain of "No Reservations" television fame and Wylie Dufresne, chef of WD-50, on the subject of mediocrity, each piece pivoting around food and cooking.
In between are page after page of material about ramen - the central theme of the issue - in the form of recipes, regional Japanese maps of different varieties and a taste test of noodles by, do tell, Ms. Reichl.
All of this would be too cute by half, a fetish object for foodies, if not for the larger lesson it provides for publishers.
Reading magazines - and newspapers for that matter - is becoming a niche activity, and it behooves the industry to reward its true fans with palpable, physical quality.
In the last few years, when the ads began disappearing and the page counts began shrinking, many magazines began to look like brochures. The industry responded by cutting costs on every front, including by printing on thin, gauzy paper that made them feel like brochures as well.
If magazines are to survive, they'll have to become something special, offering heft and a kind of "thing-ness" that gives them value over other ways of consuming text. The writing in Lucky Peach is bright and unexpected, the graphics are remarkable, and the knitting of images and prose is done with élan.
That makes sense: Mr. Chang is a freak about the covenant of quality between the consumer and the cook, and McSweeney's, the small publishing concern put together by the writer Dave Eggers, is similarly concerned with handcrafted excellence in the form of McSweeney's Quarterly and Believer magazine.
"The solution to problems in publishing is probably not less, but more," said Mr. Ying of McSweeney's, who is the editor of Lucky Peach. "Writers and designers don't deserve to have their work squeezed onto pages that look and feel like tissue paper. We wanted to put the effort in to give the reader something they'd value having in their hands."
Lucky Peach delivers. It is a glorious, improbable artifact that sold out its first printing of 40,000 and second of 12,000. It is a pint-size hit among the food-obsessed.
Now, I would not know a good bowl of ramen if you prepared it in my mouth, but there I was, carrying this magazine around for a week - to the beach, to the restaurant, to the office. Mine is now decorated with bookmarks, food stains and beach sand because I could not put it down. Mr. Chang said that Lucky Peach was less a business idea than something that sprang from the spaces between like-minded people.
Mr. Bourdain, a chef who took off the apron and headed out into the world with a camera trailing him for the Travel Channel, agreed. "The guiding ethic was that the important movers in the project cared less about the business success than making something that is good and interesting," he said.
The iPad app has been slow in coming, but there are bits visible on the Web, including a video of a hilarious profane noodle throwdown between Mr. Chang and the twin magicians of Torrisi Italian Specialties, Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi. But for now, Lucky Peach is something you dog-ear, not activate, with your fingers.
For years, publishers have stamped out mass-produced glossies sold at deep discounts so that they could build an audience to sell advertising against. That formula has been breaking down; audiences have atomized, ad dollars have dispersed and information has become a widespread commodity.
At some point, publishers are going to have to seduce audiences into paying real money for the product. Lucky Peach is not only something to behold, it is something to hold, a reminder of print's true wingspan.