You invested in what?

David Chang, Wired Magazine (July 2016), photo by Joe Pugliese

When it was announced last week that RSE led an investment round in Momofuku, the 12-year old culinary company founded and overseen by David Chang, we got the exact same reaction from nearly everyone: “Love that brand! But why did you invest?”

This is an understandable sentiment on the surface, as most know RSE as a sports-focused fund. But the reality is that from the beginning, sports has simply been one manifestation of a broader investment thesis: the power of live experiences. To-date, many of our investments around that thesis have been focused on sports, an industry where we have deep roots and understanding:

· The International Champions Cup — bringing premiere soccer teams and events to the masses

· The Drone Racing League — creating next generation events at the intersection of virtual reality, eSports, and Formula 1

· Student Sports — the premiere network of camps and events for elite high school athletes

· PrimeSport — providing access to premiere global events across sports, music, and entertainment

· NextVR — providing virtual access to premiere global events across sports, music, and entertainment

However, we are continually exploring other sectors that exhibit many of the same characteristics that make sports an attractive market: engaged fan bases; premiere, memorable experiences; sponsorship and media tie-ins. The evolving food space checks all of these boxes.

“Dinner and a movie” has become a concept of the past, with restaurants and home cooking now taking center stage in an evening’s activity — food itself is now the entertainment. The rise of the Food Network and celebrity chefs reflecting an increasingly sophisticated and demanding consumer palate for great food, transparent sourcing, and unique environments, has led to a new culinary landscape ripe for innovation and investment.

RSE has quietly made several investments within the food ecosystem, starting in 2014 with RESY, a restaurant reservations platform we helped incubate which is providing consumers access to the culinary world, and continuing in 2015 with an investment in Homer, a logistics business providing delivery infrastructure and technology for restaurants. We’ve also invested in emerging food concepts June, Banza, and Grove.

During this time, we were searching for an opportunity to invest in and support a strong, scalable, and experiential brand with physical locations — marrying the consumer and innovation focus of RSE with the strong real estate DNA of our Chairman and founder, Stephen Ross.

Which brings us to David Chang and Momofuku.

David is one of the great chefs and culinary architects of our generation — from Michelin Stars and James Beard Awards to pushing the envelope with new ingredients and concepts, all while keeping prices reasonable and dress codes non-existent. Momofuku has become synonymous with quality, innovation, and approachability. And the result is a brand that translates into a variety of categories (ramen, fried chicken, cookies) led by a maestro that is as charismatic as he is talented.

We are excited to partner with David, Christina Tosi and the outstanding Momofuku team to build upon their truly exceptional restaurant concepts, Noodle Bar, Milk Bar and Fuku, while providing the capital and resources to allow Momofuku to continue delivering exceptional dining experiences across the globe.

Momofuku Noodle Bar’s signature ramen bowl