How Decorated Chef Danny Bowien Flipped Failure into Stardom

Maven presents ‘A Drink With- Disruptors’, a unique event series featuring conversations with change agents across industries. Hillary Sawchuk, founder of the popular ‘A Drink With’ series, interviews Emmy award nominee and James Beard Award finalist Danny Bowien, chef and owner of Mission Chinese NYC and SF.

The mark of a successful chef and restaurateur is to take failure, flip it on its head, and create something wildly unique that people can’t live without. Enter Danny Bowien, who dealt with getting shutdown by the health department before turning Mission Chinese Food into what has been called the second-best restaurant in America.

“That’s the worst thing that can happen at a restaurant,” he recalls to us and a group of influencers and media guests on April 4 in NYC. “I laugh about it now, but at the time you think ‘my life is over.’”

But life didn’t end, it just got a whole lot spicier; from creating “numbing, really crazy” dishes like Mapo Tofu to carving out a spot in NYC to bring his innovative approach to Chinese food. Oh and there’s that little (not so little) Emmy nomination for hosting the 6th season of the show “Mind of a Chef” where he and his cooking appears as the main subject.

And while all the attention and accolades are nice to have, his energy today is laser focused on giving people a unique and genuine experience. “We’re not cooking for the critics this time around,” he says of his upcoming Bushwick, Brooklyn restaurant.

After all, the critical acclaim is just for a person or group while the tastes and flavors that transcend the critics’ predispositions are for everyone. Hat tip to this one-of-a-kind chef for keeping it spicy.

Read the full interview and watch the video