Noted Chef Danny Bowien of Mission Chinese Food will be featured in GQ's December Men of the Year issue. In an interview with Brett Martin, the chef comes off as a wonderfully sensitive guy -- a refreshing change to the affected machismo shtick polluting nearly all celebrity chefs these days -- who just wants to please people. Bowien also describes how he lost 37 pounds prior to opening the New York locations.
Brett Martin hears about the stress Bowien endured to open Mission Chinese in New York: Opening was a brutal process. Bowien would work eighteen-hour days and then drink a bottle of whiskey at night, throwing up every morning, more from the nerves than the booze. He lost thirty-seven pounds, causing his father to temporarily relocate from Oklahoma to help take care of his son. “This restaurant almost killed me,” he says. “It’s like my baby.” Since the place opened, he’s quit hard alcohol but not late nights or early mornings—he’s up at 6 a.m. every day.
and Bowien shares that he largely aims to please everyone: “If you’re going to wait for hours, my concern is, ‘How can I keep you from being totally pissed off by the time you sit down?’ ” Bowien says. Even picky little darlings find themselves accommodated. “We’ll do a vegan version of whatever we can,” he says, a shocking position in a world where chefs are more likely to take cyanide than requests for substitutions. "The thing is," Bowien says, "I really just want everybody to like us.”
He's also, in his own words, no longer an asshole.
"Over the years of cooking, I’ve gone through all these stages of being an asshole, wanting to be the best, abusing my responsibility," he says. "I kind of just wanted to come out the other end as the nice guy, you know? I don’t need to be the best anymore. I just want to cook what I want to cook."