Cooking Up Success By Staying True To Yourself

Danny Bowien

David Chang

I always find it really admirable when you find people who not only take a chance on their dreams but continue to defy the odds once they reach them. Doing what you love isn’t always easy, and sticking with it can be even harder. So I was really inspired by a couple of great articles about two guys having fun in the world of food.

The first is Danny Bowien, a San Francisco chef who runs a restaurant called Mission Chinese Food with his partner Anthony Myin. The thing about Mission Chinese Food is that it’s situated in an existing Chinese restaurant called Lung Shan Chinese. They operate together under one roof and you can order from either menu, but Mission Chinese is certainly the more popular half. Instead of the Americanized version of Chinese food, Mission serves a fresh take on Chinese, using fine ingredients, lots of fatty meats, and some of the hottest spices out there.

I think it’s so rad that they set up shop in an existing restaurant. They split the profits of everything they make with the owners of Lung Shan, which is great, and have created a business that definitely defies the norm. I don’t know if many people would take a chance like that, but clearly these guys aren’t afraid of a challenge. You can read more about Mission Chinese Food by clicking here.

The second guy you might actually be familiar with: his name is David Chang and he’s the founder of Momofuku in New York. I’ve had the pleasure of eating at Momofuku only once but it was a magnificent meal: it’s worth every ounce of praise it’s ever received. He started in 2003 by opening Momofuku Noodle Bar, and since then he’s opened Ssäm Bar, Ko, Má Pêche, and two Milk Bars (which are bakeries). To say that he’s on a roll right now would be an understatement. So what would one do to continue your success and grow your business? For David Chang he had many options, but he chose an iPad app and a journal which will be published by McSweeney’s.

The first iPad app will focus on, of course, ramen. And, by clicking on the ingredients, you’ll be given videos, recipes, and more to explore. There’s even “a tour of a ramen factory in Japan; an interview with Allan Benton, the Tennessee smokehouse master whose bacon is used in the broth; a consultation with Harvard food scientists about Mr. Chang’s efforts to make a pork-based variant of dashi; a talk by Harold McGee (green-screened into outer space) on hot broth’s effects on noodles; and a scrollable time line tracing the rise of ramen in Japan over the last century.” Pretty thorough for a bowl of ramen, huh?

On the opposite end of the spectrum though is a paper publication being released through independent publisher McSweeney’s. In David Chang’s own words, “It’ll be people chiming in on various subjects, fairly random. Not everything’s better on video. Some things are better captured in a writer’s voice.” It’s interesting to me that he’s choosing both a technological route as well as a more tactile, traditional route to take his business. Only time will tell if either are successful, but I love that he’s taking a risk and trying new things. You can click here to read more about David Chang and his new endeavors.


February 8, 2011