Danny Bowien

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Danny Bowien
Danny bowien wiki.jpg
James Daniel Bowien

1982 (age 39–40)

James Daniel Bowien (born 1982) is a chef and restaurateur. He is the founder and owner of Mission Chinese Food in New York City and Brooklyn and co-founder of Mission Chinese Food in San Francisco, California. Bowien is a James Beard Award winner, and the main subject of season six of the food and travel show The Mind of a Chef.[1]

Early life[edit]

Bowien, born in South Korea, was adopted at a young age by a family in Oklahoma.[2][3] Growing up as one of the only Korean Americans in school left him without a clear sense of identity, and his roots in Asian culture fostered a need to do something respectable.[4] He had various jobs, including as a dishwasher in a Vietnamese restaurant,[3] and at age 19 he moved to San Francisco.[3]


After a spell in culinary school Bowien worked at several restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area, including the Italian restaurant Farina.[5] Through his work there he was sent to the 2008 Pesto World Championships in Genoa, Italy, where he won first place.[6]

Bowien partnered with Anthony Myint on a series of food truck pop-ups including Mission Street Food and Mission Burger, and with the owners of a Chinese restaurant called Lung Shan on Mission Street, started Mission Chinese Food as the first restaurant-within-a-restaurant pop-up.[5] It was named the second Best New Restaurant in America by Bon Appetit Magazine and fourth Best New Restaurant in America by GQ Magazine.[7][8] Bowien was nominated the 2011 Rising Star Chef by the San Francisco Chronicle, and in 2012 he was a James Beard Award Finalist.[9][10] He was included in Food and Wine Magazine's 40 Big Thinkers under 40, and San Francisco Chronicle’s Bay Area 30 under 30.[11][12]

After leaving San Francisco in 2012 Bowien opened a standalone Mission Chinese Food in New York City's Lower East Side.[13] In 2013, he opened a Mexican restaurant, Mission Cantina, in New York.[14] Mission Cantina was closed 3 years later.[15] In May 2013, Bowien was awarded the prestigious "Rising Star Chef" by the James Beard Foundation for his work in the Mission Chinese Food in San Francisco and New York City.[16]

In 2014 Bowien moved Mission Chinese Food to New York's Chinatown.[17] In 2017, Bowien was chosen to be the main subject of the sixth season of the food and travel show The Mind of a Chef. It premiered on November 14, 2017, on Facebook Watch.[1] In 2018, Bowien opened a new Mission Chinese Food location in Bushwick, Brooklyn in front of the independent music venue Elsewhere.[18] In September, 2020, Bowien announced permanent closure of the Mission outpost on East Broadway in Chinatown, due to the hardships COVID-19 had on the hospitality industry.[19] While the Mission Chinese Food in Chinatown had closed permanently by the end of September 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Bushwick location remained open.[20]

Culinary style[edit]

Bowien is recognized for his impact on the democratization of fine dining.[21] Bowien is known as a populist, making food that is accessible to everyone.[22] His work in the kitchen is notable, according to GQ, for pioneering the elevation of Chinese food and breaking down barriers in an industry known for its strict Eurocentric hierarchy.[3]


  1. ^ a b Dao, Dan Q. (November 16, 2017). "Bing-Watch the New 'Mind of a Chef' Episodes Featuring Mission Chinese Food's Danny Bowien". Saveur.
  2. ^ Cathey, Dave (May 28, 2013). "Danny Bowien comes to the aid of his hometown". The Oklahoman.
  3. ^ a b c d Martin, Brett (November 21, 2012). “Danny and the Electric Kung Pao Pastrami Test”. GQ
  4. ^ How Mission Chinese Chef Danny Bowien Defines Authenticity”. Asia Society. (April 20, 2018) Retrieved October 17, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Kauffman, Jonathan (September 8, 2010). "Mission Chinese Food offers a Matrix mind-twister of a meal". SF Weekly.
  6. ^ "2008 Championship". Pestochampionship.it. Archived from the original on 2012-07-24. Retrieved 2012-08-30.
  7. ^ "The Best New Restaurants in America, 2011: In the Magazine". bonappetit.com. Retrieved 2012-08-30.
  8. ^ Carolyn Alburger (2012-02-16). "GQ's Alan Richman Names Mission Chinese Food Among Ten Best New Restaurants of 2011". Sf.eater.com. Retrieved 2012-08-30.
  9. ^ Hu, Janny (2011-03-13). "Danny Bowien: 2011 Rising Star Chef". SFGate. Retrieved 2012-08-30.
  10. ^ Carey Jones (2012-03-19). "James Beard Foundation Announces 2012 Finalists". Serious Eats. Retrieved 2012-08-30.
  11. ^ "Anthony Myint & Danny Bowien: Charitable Chefs | Food & Wine". Foodandwine.com. Retrieved 2012-08-30.
  12. ^ "Inside Scoop SF » Zagat unveils its Bay Area contingent of 30 Under 30". Insidescoopsf.sfgate.com. 2012-02-22. Retrieved 2012-08-30.
  13. ^ Fabricant, Florence (2012-02-13). "Mission Chinese Food Is Coming to New York — NYTimes.com". San Francisco (Calif): Dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2012-08-30.
  14. ^ Fabricant, Florence (2013-10-28). "Danny Bowien's Mission Cantina Opens Soon". The New York Times.
  15. ^ Dai, Serena (December 8, 2016). "Danny Bowien's Mission Cantina Closes After Three Years Of Shapeshifting". Eater NY.
  16. ^ "2013 James Beard Award Winners" (PDF).{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  17. ^ Gordinier, Jeff (December 23, 2014) “A Chef Regains His Focus”. The New York Times. Retrieved October 30th, 2019.
  18. ^ Adam Platt (2019-01-29). "At the Psychedelic New Mission Chinese Food, Get the Riblets". GrubStreet.
  19. ^ Fortney, Luke (2020-09-17). "Mission Chinese, Danny Bowien's Genre-Bending Lower East Side Restaurant, Will Permanently Close". Eater NY. Retrieved 2020-11-12.
  20. ^ Christina Izzo, Bao Ong, Amber Sutherland-Namako (October 29, 2021), "75 notable NYC restaurants and bars that permanently closed since 2020", TimeOut{{citation}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  21. ^ Interview. (September 12, 2018). “Restaurateurs Danny Bowien and Mr.Chow compare notes on Chinese food and the truth of a dish”. Interview Magazine. Retrieved October 17, 2019.
  22. ^ Birdsall, John (May 10, 2019). “Chef Danny Bowien doesn’t care that you have a problem with his Arizona Iced Tea deal”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 17, 2019.

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