Danny Bowien: Mission Chinese

The Culinary Rogue Reveals the Secrets of Chinatown and the Music of Sichuan Cuisine

Sporting his trademark long bleached hair, maverick foodie and Sonic Youth aficionado Danny Bowien shares the kitchen antics at his celebrated Mission Chinese Food restaurant and feasts at his favorite local joint, where he finds inspiration in peppercorn- and beer-braised chicken and pork pancakes, in this new film by Jordan Bahat. The Korean-born, Oklahoma-raised chef has been drawing visitors to his small Chinatown outpost in staggering numbers since it opened in Manhattan last May, placating lines of hungry guests with a keg of free beer. It’s worth the wait: hybrid dishes like Kung Pao pastrami, catfish à la Sichuan seasoned with Old Bay and barbequed pig tails marinated in Coca-Cola have earned him a place at the top of The New York Times critic Pete Wells’ 2012 “Restaurant Triumphs” list. Bowien first gained cred for his signature brand of Chinese-American dishes with a pop-up venture in San Francisco’s Mission District. He picked up his culinary spark working odd restaurant jobs—not in formal training—and happily credits neighborhood haunts like Spicy Village as keys to his success. “Danny really let us in on his process,” said Bahat, who has shot music videos for indie acts including Josh Osho and Grouplove, and chose the sounds of Ducky to accompany this new short. “Danny goes somewhere, orders everything on the menu and then goes home and tries to recreate it. He’s the Mayor of Chinatown.”

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  • ON REPLAY
    ON REPLAY

    Kook Paradise

    Veteran Surfers Danny DiMauro and Tin Ojeda Parody Montauk’s New Long Boarding Craze

    From breath-taking beach yoga warm-ups to artistic board decorations and wipe-outs on mammoth 2ft swells, Danny DiMauro and Tin Ojeda show up the hype surrounding New York’s version of Malibu in their new film Kook Paradise. Shot on an old camcorder on Ditch Plains Beach in Montauk, the short plays on the aesthetics of 1960’s surfploitation films and pokes fun at a modern beachtown with surf fever. “Both of us are pranksters always playing jokes on one another down at the beach,” explains DiMauro. Known for its bohemian and unpretentious atmosphere, Montauk has been the choice destination for artists escaping the city since Andy Warhol, photographer Peter Beard and The Rolling Stones discovered the spot in the sixties. Recently, the town has become the epicenter of the East Coast’s surfing boom, with ‘kooks’—poor surfers who don’t really know what they’re doing, especially those new to the sport—descending on the area in droves. DiMauro teamed up with artist Tin Ojeda, known for his Drugmoneyart T-shirt line, to capture the ensuing comedy in a photo ‘zine. “We kept getting caught taking photos of people, so Tin decided to remedy the problem by using an old camcorder he had,” explains DiMauro. “When we watched the tape, there was so much hilarity that we decided to make a film to document everything we see on a daily basis.”

    Kook Paradise premieres at the New York Surf Film Festival on September 19 and 20.

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  • On Replay
    On Replay

    Takeru Kobayashi: Hunger

    Five Days of Food, Part Two: The World Champion Eater Devours Grapes in Artist Item Idem's Dionysian New Short

    A conceptual artist, a film director, a competitive eating champion with four Guinness World Records and 25 bunches of grapes collide in Item Idem’s experimental film Hunger. The Paris-born, New York-based artist Cyril Duval teamed up with fashion film director CyCy Sanders to direct this faux-cinematic trailer conceived for new-to-the-scene food magazine White Zinfandel starring Japan’s infamously voracious competitive eater Takeru Kobayashi. Beginning with a rapid montage of Kobayashi's greatest triumphs devouring such American classics as hotdogs and bowls of spaghetti, the work parodies the high-octane feel of American sports television, piggy-backing on Hollywood themes found in campaigns for blockbusters like Gladiator and The Hunger Games. As Kobayashi devours clusters of grapes while reclining in a tunic and laurel wreath, the Greco-Roman-inspired scene typifies the notorious pop sensibility of Item Idem, who has exhibited at Design Miami and collaborated with the likes of Comme des Garçons, Bernard Willhelm and Colette. “I had been toying with the idea of using him as my muse for quite some time,” says Duval of the eating legend. “Kobayashi exists as a superstar in his own parallel world and I wanted to bring his stature as a celebrity athlete into different spheres.”

    Kobayashi's World Records 

    August 26, 2012: Hot Dogs
    World Record: 110 hot dogs (without buns) in 10 minutes at the New York State Fair in Syracuse, New York.

    March 25, 2011: Spaghetti
    Guinness World Record: 100g (3.53oz) in 45 seconds at the Lo Show Dei Record, Milan. 

    August 29, 2010: Hamburgers
    Guinness World Record: 10 hamburgers in three minutes on the set of Bikkuri Chojin 100 Special #4 (Fuji TV), New York. 

    March 8, 2010: Meatballs
    Guinness World Record: 29 meatballs in one minute on the set of Bikkuri Chojin 100 Special #3 (Fuji TV), New York. 

    The third issue of White Zinfandel, “Food Fights”, will be launched at NADA Miami on 6 December.

    (Read More)

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