The Rising Star Chef of the Year Award was created to honor a chef 30 years old or under who demonstrates outstanding promise.
This year, Danny Bowien may have a slight advantage over the others across the country, as his Mission Chinese restaurants now sit on two coasts. Both New York and San Francisco showcase Bowien’s quirky spin on Chinese-American fare, with fiery, sweat-inducing, eye-opening dishes such as kung pao pastrami and char siu pig’s ear terrine.
Born in South Korea and raised in Oklahoma, Bowien worked at NYC’s Sumile before moving to San Francisco and eventually becoming the chef de cuisine at Farina. While there, his mentor, Paolo Laboa, sent Bowien to the 2008 World Pesto Championship in Genoa, Italy. When Bowien won, his star officially started to rise. Within two years he opened his first branch of Mission Chinese in San Francisco, and it immediately became one of the city’s hottest tables. The New York branch opened in 2012 to even higher acclaim—Pete Wells of The New York Times hailed it as the “most exciting restaurant of the year.” At both restaurants, Bowien donates 75 cents from every meal to local food banks. This is his second consecutive nomination for Rising Star Chef.
This chef profile is part of a series we’re running as part of the annual James Beard Foundation Awards and Gala, commonly referred to as the “Oscars of the food world.” Winners will be announced on Monday, May 6, at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall. For more information, see our introductory story.