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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Mission Burger/Mission Street Food's Danny Bowien: The SFoodie Interview, Part 2

Posted By on Tue, Apr 6, 2010 at 1:34 PM

click to enlarge Danny Bowien. - JESSE FRIEDMAN/BEER & NOSH
Mission Burger's 27-year-old short-order cook Danny Bowien has serious kitchen chops. In yesterday's first installment with Mary Ladd, Bowien talked about his inspiration, favorite cuisines, and the genesis of what might be San Francisco's most unusual burger. In today's Q&A conclusion, the Mission Street Food regular talks about his worst kitchen fail, and mentions a few off-night favorites. ―John Birdsall

SFoodie: Talk about your biggest screw-up in the kitchen.

Bowien: Everyone has their horror stories, and mine all come from working in New York. At the time I was completely green and spent most of my time correcting my mistakes than actually cooking. I remember one time I was working in between the chef and the sous chef and I was really weeded, I mean really bad. The difference here was that when an order was fired, the veg guy (me) would cook veg, the protein guy would cook his meat or fish, and the chef would plate. I was so behind that I was screwing everybody up. Finally the meat guy motioned to the chef and was like (I'm being 100 percent serious here), "Dude, you fucking suck so bad. Drop and give me 20." I thought he was joking so I nervously smiled and kept trying to pull myself out of this hole that I had dug for all of us. He was being serious. After much more verbal abuse, I eventually, dropped and gave him twenty push-ups. More like 30 because they kept saying that I wasn't doing them right.

The whole time this was going on, the chef was showing all of our new tickets to the sous chef and they were prefiring all of their next sets. Once I was done with my "20" they threw all of the tickets at me and said, "Fire, asshole." That's when it got really bad. Being awesome cooks that knew what was up next, they were right on course and I was even farther behind. See, in this kitchen it was all memory. The chef held all of the tickets and expedited to the line, so if you forgot something you had to ask, which was scary. Anyways, here I was with all of these crumpled up tickets that I didn't even know how to read! Eventually, they just told me to go home. I returned to work following the incident, bright and early.

Favorite off-night spots?

Sebo, Popeyes. [Bowien told us he's been on the hunt for great fried chicken lately.]

Name a chef from another genre or cooking style who inspires you.

Michel Bras is a badass. Also what's the name of the guy on the old Iron Chef that flips that huge omelet in like a huge wok?

What local chef deserves more attention?

That's a good one. I would have to say I wouldn't know. Everyone loves Commis, though I haven't been yet. That has to be the meal that I am most looking forward to eating.

How about your guiltiest food pleasure?

There's no guilt in food pleasure.

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Mary Ladd


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