LIV WU: Chris andDanny were just telling me that this book isalmost– it is, not almost– a journal and a diaryof the backstory as they were trying to openMission Chinese in New York.
There were ups and downs.
And then theywould operationally try to get the restaurantgoing, despite some hurdles.
But then they'd spend fourhours, up to around 2:00 AM at night, talking about,what are the recipes that are going in this cookbook? How do we actually writedown what we create? And so the book isa labor of love.
It's a record of a conversationbetween two people who love what they do about foodand are passionate about it.
And it's also a resource.
Because at one point,Danny, you lost the recipes in the restaurant, right? [INAUDIBLE] LIV WU: So they actuallyhad some recipes recorded.
So this is the workingdocument for Mission Chinese.
Unlike some cookbooksthat are written by chefs and restaurateurs,this is real and alive.
And it has the DNA ofMission Chinese in it.
So they are bothvery accomplished.
I think you know about them.
Danny is a James Beard RisingStar award winner from 2013.
Chris is the founderof "Lucky Peach.
" He's a reallyfabulous food writer.
And this is a great partnership.
So today, what they'regoing to do for you is a recipe from the book.
And then we're going topull in a Googler who contributed an idea for whathe wanted these two to do.
And they'll play for you andbe quite creative and Googly about this whole thing.
So without much ado,Danny and Chris.
[APPLAUSE] CHRIS YING: Thank youguys heard for coming out in the middle of yourwork day and seeing whatever we're doing here.
DANNY BOWIEN: We're gonnacook some stuff, I think.
CHRIS YING: Yeah.
Like Liv was saying,this book that I hope you guys all havea chance to look at is really like– I've workedon a fair number of cookbooks and read a lot of cookbooks.
And I really feel like this,more than any other book I've ever encountered, islike part of the restaurant.
Like the money that wegot for this cookbook enabled us to open– orenabled Danny to open– a restaurant in New York.
When Danny– DANNY BOWIEN: Weran out of money.
Like, very quickly.
CHRIS YING: Yeah.
And Danny had grand plans topay off his student debts.
But instead, the money fromthe book opened the restaurant.
DANNY BOWIEN: Yeah.
CHRIS YING: We wroteit in real time.
Everything that happenedfor Mission Chinese and to Mission Chinese over thelast four years is in there.
So it's a fun one.
DANNY BOWIEN: Yeah.
It's really crazy, because–can you guys hear me? Is my mic on? Oh, there it is.
It's got a feedback [INAUDIBLE].
[INAUDIBLE] DANNY BOWIEN: OK.
It's really funny.
Because this book was supposedto be done how long ago? CHRIS YING: We were like2 and 1/2 years late.
DANNY BOWIEN: So when weactually sold the book, I was moving to New York toopen– I had this great idea.
I was like, let's open arestaurant in New York.
Which you should read aboutin the book, because it was very tumultuous.
So we sold it before MissionChinese New York had even opened.
So it was all off ofthe good faith and trust of the San Francisco operationthat we've been running.
So we opened it to much success.
And then we closed it twice.
It got shut down by the healthdepartment of New York City twice.
So that automatically–we were like, well, what should we do with the book? Because we were behind.
Because we were runninga restaurant in New York.
And that's crazy.
So it really hasevolved into this thing.
And we actually had tocut it off at one point.
I would be calling Chrisand being like, dude, we have all these new recipes.
We've gotta do this,this, and this.
And we just have to doanother book, eventually, because there's so much content.
So a lot of thestuff in the book is about the earlier years.
You'll see in the end, wepeppered in a few recipes from New York.
Some of the recipes aregoing to be on the menu here in San Francisco soon, too.
But anyways– CHRIS YING: So thisrecipe you're going to do is from the book.
It's one of the classicMission Chinese ones.
DANNY BOWIEN: How manyguys here– and this is not a rhetorical– this is anhonest question because up until recently, I even hadtrouble with this as a chef.
But how many of you guys hereknow how to boil eggs properly? All right.
So there's lots ofdifferent ways to do it.
And ideally, I don't screw thisup in front of all of you guys right now.
But so really, a cooltrick is– we always try to soft-cook eggsfor our porridge.
We're going to make aWestlake rice porridge.
So the idea behindthis whole thing is Westlake beef soup is areally classic Cantonese, kind of Chinese Americandish that I've had at lots ofplaces, specifically R&G Lounge, which is oneof my favorite restaurants in the entire universe.
But what it is is kindof like an egg drop soup, but there's no yolk.
It's basically anegg white soup that's thickened with cornstarch, usually.
It's got some stock in it.
And there's always beef,cilantro, and sometimes there's imitationcrab or real crab.
So the idea ofthis whole dish was we wanted to make a dishat Mission Chinese that wasn't like a corn-starchthick, slurried soup.
We wanted to make something thathad the same kind of feeling– mouth-feel, texture– as hotand sour soup or egg drop soup or chicken and corn soup, butnot using the corn starch.
So for me, congee has alwaysbeen a really awesome– how many people hereknow what congee is? I'm sure a lot of you.
So usually, congee is–depending on where you go, it's very thick and very tight.
You usually eat it in themorning for breakfast, or I do.
And it gets you goingthrough the day.
And you're nothungry for a while.
But at the restaurant,what we were seeing is we would make thisrice porridge.
And people wouldjust get crushed off of a bowl of rice porridge.
And they wouldn't be ableto eat anything else.
And you would alsojust be losing money.
Because how much can you chargefor a bowl of rice and water? So in grand MissionChinese style, we were like, let's just puta lot of fancy stuff in it, and make it not so heavy soyou can eat other things.
So that was along-winded explanation of what we're about to make.
And then I'm just goingto demo this super-fast.
So keep up, if you can.
You just get a pot.
My soft-cooked eggs–the Westlake rice porridge we do alwayshas beef of some form.
For this recipe, weuse beef cheeks, which you guys can find, I'm sure.
Bi-Rite stocks them usually.
If you go to yourbutcher, you can get them if you ask them verynicely for them.
There's a lot of fatand connective tissue in beef cheeks that breaksdown when you cook it very slowly, when youbraise it, and just turns into really awesome flavor.
If you don't havebeef cheek, you could use– we don't even usebeef cheek in New York anymore.
We just cut up raw beef andthrow raw beef into it– really awesome, grass-fed beef tartar.
And then we fold in sea urchinand trout roe or salmon roe.
But we always do an egg.
I think an egg isvery important.
So soft-cooking eggscouldn't be easier.
I always just take anegg, and put it into a pan without water in it.
And then I cover it with water.
And this is cold water.
And then you justwait for this to boil.
So this should take– Idon't know– a while to boil.
Hopefully it boils bythe time we're done.
When it comes to boil,you put a lid on it.
And then you just step backand wait 6 to 6 and 1/2 minutes off the heat.
Just cover it.
Take it off the heat.
Let it sit for 6 minutes.
After 6 minutes, take it outof the water– preferably not with your hand.
And then put itinto some ice water.
And open it up.
You'll have an egg that is justbarely runny in the middle, and that white is perfectly set.
A lot of mistakespeople usually make when they're soft-cookingeggs is they drop eggs– and I do this myself–into boiling water.
What happens is the outsideof the actual egg, when it hits that hot water– usuallythe temperature of the egg itself from therefrigerator is cold.
Even if you temper it, thetemperature of that eggshell is a lot different temperaturethan the boiling water.
And it will actually crackwhen it hits the bottom.
And then you don't havethis nice round egg.
You have little strands ofwhite egg in your water, and it doesn't work.
So I think coveringit with cold water– bring it up to a boil, 6 to7 minutes, and you're golden.
Another thing that I'mjust going to hammer out really fast so we can make funof ourselves about this book is the rice porridge–ratios for rice porridges can vary wildly.
I like to take apot like this size.
One of the things you wantto remember when you're making a rice porridge, ifyou guys end up making this, is that rice is starch.
So starch, if you don't paytoo much attention to it– how many of you guys havebeen making mashed potatoes, and forgot about it,and then just burned your mashed potatoes? No one's going toraise their hand, but I'm sure it's happened.
The ratio of rice to wateris about 12 to 16 parts water to one part rice.
So literally, you needlike a gallon of water to like a cup of rice.
And it makes a lotof rice porridge.
So what's great aboutthis dish is– you know, Thanksgiving is coming up.
If you wanted to makesomething for everyone when they come over and they're alllike– you know, you're hungry.
You don't want to get too full.
A nice rice brothis really nice.
They're like, wow,he made congee? All you've got to dois buy fancy stuff and put it in this rice broth.
And everyone willbe very impressed.
CHRIS YING: You're just givingaway the entire business model.
DANNY BOWIEN: This is how youopen Mission Chinese Food.
Just make rice broth.
Put fancy things in it.
This is working outperfectly, actually.
So this water isabout to come up.
It's coming up to a simmer.
One of the very important thingsto do– the version of rice porridge we make, wemake it a lot thinner.
So it's closer to like aVietnamese rice porridge than it is a Chineserice porridge.
Neither way is right or wrong.
I just prefer it tobe a little thinner.
Big pot, small amount ofrice– this goes in the pot.
And then you toast this.
You want to toast thisuntil it smells fragrant.
I always use jasmine rice.
I really love jasmine rice.
I think the flavor's amazing.
You can use short-grain rice.
But know that if youuse short-grain rice, it's going to get a lot thicker.
So that's it.
Toast this on thisthing– on a stove, or whatever you haveat home, a hot plate– until it's fragrant.
You don't want it to bebrown or anything like that.
And then you want toadd your water or stock.
I always add water.
And then it's kind ofcrazy, because the way I was taught to do this,the lady at Duc Loi– does anyone know whatthat grocery store is? There's a market in theMission, next to Mission Chinese Food, called Duc Loi.
It's a Vietnamese market.
The owner's name is Amanda.
And she was just like, oh,when I make my rice porridge, I just put a wholechicken in there.
And I was like, OK.
But it really works.
Because all theflavor in chicken is really in the protein.
And there's flavor youcan pull out of the bones if you're makinga chicken stock.
But if you just drop a wholechicken into simmering water with rice, the chickenactually becomes very tender because it's cookingin a rice broth.
There's something about therice that helps break down the protein gently.
And it makes it really tender.
And then you get all thewonderful flavor of chicken that goes intothe rice porridge.
So a long storyshort– you're not making a chickenstock for four hours and then straining it andthen pouring it into here.
Just take a chicken.
Put some salt on it.
Leave it overnightin your refrigerator.
If you're not making a lot, justtake a couple legs of chicken.
If you're making a big potlike this, you can do it.
Put a whole chicken in here.
And then just drop it in there.
Bring it up to a simmer.
And then let it simmerfor about– until it starts to thicken.
Stir it a lot.
Don't let it stickto the bottom.
This is boiling now, soI'm going to take it off.
And then we'll justput a lid on that.
And then I'm going to actlike I'm toasting this.
Chris, do you haveany questions for me at all while I'mtoasting this rice? CHRIS YING: Huh.
DANNY BOWIEN: I have notseen "The Martian" yet.
So I don't know.
Yes, I like TaylorSwift's new album.
I don't know whatelse you– so anyways.
Toast the rice.
This is rice that's toasted.
We would have addedlike 12 to 16– I would start out withlike 12 parts water.
And then what will happen isif it starts to get thicker, you add more water.
You're just going to season atthe very end with a little bit of fish sauce and salt.
And the ratios for all that are in the book.
That's why I'm notgoing to tell you.
So you all buy thebook afterwards.
CHRIS YING: It will lookkind of ridiculous at first.
You'll be like, thisis way too much water.
DANNY BOWIEN: Yeah.
It'll look like– CHRIS YING: There's no waythis is going to come together.
DANNY BOWIEN: Butit will thicken.
It'll be where youwant it to be, ideally.
And if it's not,you can just adjust.
CHRIS YING: Do youhave a real portion? DANNY BOWIEN: Yeah.
And I guess I can just take areal portion of the– do you guys have the real bowl of– CHRIS YING: Can wejust get a bowl of– DANNY BOWIEN: Soreally quickly, there's a recipe for beefcheeks in there.
The beef cheeks are braised.
So after we braisethem, we always let– if you braisesomething, that means you're just cookingit in a flavorful liquid.
You always want to letthat cool in the liquid that it's cooked in.
You don't want to take it outafter you– it's very tempting.
You pull somethingout of the oven.
You're braising awhole piece of meat.
You're like, oh,I think it's done.
You take it out.
It just dries out.
You want to let it cool inthe liquid it's cooked in.
CHRIS YING: Thank you.
DANNY BOWIEN: So it staysreally juicy and delicious.
What happens next, afterit cools, is the stock becomes this gel, becauseof all the connective– all of the collagenin the beef cheeks.
Save this stuff.
This stuff is like liquid gold.
We like to add thisback to the porridge so you have a littlebit more beef flavor.
I'm going to stop talkingabout the rice porridge now.
Let's talk aboutthe book, Chris.
Because that's– CHRIS YING: Yes.
Let's talk about the book.
I mean, an interestingthing with beef cheeks, though, is the reason why Dannyand Mission Chinese started using beef cheeks– DANNY BOWIEN: They're cheap.
CHRIS YING: Becausethey're cheap.
There's these inefficiencies,sort of– I mean, you guys all know about the nose-to-tailcooking and using the whole animal andthings like that.
Those are realities of havinga restaurant, actually.
Danny comes in.
He looks at a list of prices.
And he's like, oh.
Beef cheeks are like $4 a pound.
Let's do somethingwith beef cheeks.
And that's really the spiritof what Mission Chinese Food was originally.
It was like, let's dothe best with what we can and find out coolways to use things.
Since then, beefcheeks are probably quadrupled in price now.
DANNY BOWIEN: Yeah.
It's really expensive.
That's why we justuse raw beef now.
Because that'sthe– you don't have to pay someone to braise it.
It just became amatter of economics.
But it's funny.
Like lobsters– they usedto just throw them away.
Or they'd sendthem to prisoners.
I don't know ifyou guys knew that.
But lobster used to be thisthing that was frowned upon.
And they would–literally, I think, you got lobsterto eat in prison.
That was your food.
Anyway, this is really boring.
Let's talk aboutthe book some more.
CHRIS YING: Yeah.
I mean, we were sort ofhinting at it earlier.
This book is– like Dannysaid, we sold this book to our publisher beforeMission Chinese had really proven itself to be anational restaurant that deserved to have a cookbook.
And so the publisher tooka crazy gamble on us.
And the interestingthing for me, as the person writing thisbook with Danny, was none of it was reflective.
We were writingit as these things were happening, ascrazy things were happening, at Mission Chinese.
I think there was one incidentwhere Danny and I were hanging out talking about the book.
And he was like,I'm really proud, and we should really talkabout in the book, that nobody has ever quit or beenfired from this restaurant because we're justthis happy family.
And then the next morning– DANNY BOWIEN: InSan Francisco only.
CHRIS YING: In San Francisco.
DANNY BOWIEN: Notthe one in New York.
We've had like 190 employees.
CHRIS YING: And thenthe next morning, he was like– we werestaying in a geodesic dome in the Russian River becausewe were hunkering down to work on this book.
And then the next day, he gota text that was like, Dan, you've got to comeback to the restaurant.
One of the cooks just punchedthe other one in the face.
We've got to dealwith this thing.
DANNY BOWIEN: That'sjust like– that's that.
CHRIS YING: That's just howthe book was put together.
It was like every time wethought we had our story down– DANNY BOWIEN: We got punched inthe face by an angry line cook.
CHRIS YING: We got punched inthe face by an angry line cook.
The recipes are true to whathappened at the restaurant.
Like Liv was kindof hinting, when Danny was opening theNew York restaurant, the computer crashed.
And he called meand was like, do you have our recipesbacked up somewhere? DANNY BOWIEN: Yeah.
Oh, my god.
It was crazy.
It was insane.
We lost everything.
And he, actually–because of Chris, there's stillMission Chinese food.
Because we didn't havethem written down.
I didn't have them written down.
CHRIS YING: Yeah.
DANNY BOWIEN: But we do now.
And now we're very organized.
It took a longtime to get there.
I mean, I don't know.
We're super-proud of this thing.
It's like nothing– Ithink it says in the book.
It's not like we're at the topof the mountain looking back, and this is just a reflectionof what we've accomplished.
It's literally us just trying toget our shit together, like ah, everything's happening.
And all this positivestuff happens.
All this reallynegative stuff happens.
And it's just all there.
It's just like,well, OK, let's– I can't even– we would getin these yelling matches with each other, becausethere was never enough time.
How are we going toget this thing done? How are we going toget this book done? It's funny.
Because when it was actuallyfinished, we were like, oh wow.
This is really amazing.
I thought we didn't have enough.
You never thinkyou can do enough.
You're like, oh, man.
It needs more of thisand this and this.
And it has a lot of stuff.
It's a lot of content.
LIV WU: I have a question.
DANNY BOWIEN: Go.
LIV WU: So division of labor–you did the recording, Chris? You did the talking? You said, one cup of rice.
DANNY BOWIEN: I talk.
I'm really good atjust talking at people.
Like you can see,I'm just rambling on and going in circles.
So I just would talk to Chris.
And he would justpainstakingly listen to me.
Sometimes I thinkyou were just playing Xbox and just recording.
Because, I mean,I was in New York.
And you were here.
CHRIS YING: Yeah.
It's an odd process,honestly, to be writing a story like this one, orto be recording recipes of a restaurantthat's still evolving.
And that's why Danny's sayingwe kept on adding and adding and adding and couldn't stop.
It's because– for example,the recipe for Mapo tofu that's in this book is probablythe 35th version of that recipe that's beenserved at the restaurant.
And that's exciting to meas a diner and as a writer, for somebody who wants tokeep on refining and improving their product.
It's like nerve-wrackingfor a chef to put out a versionthat they're like, this is going to bebetter next week.
And everyone who'sgoing to have the book is going to have aslightly shittier version.
DANNY BOWIEN: No, butit's good, though.
The way MissionChinese started is we had no formal– I've nevercooked in a Chinese restaurant.
I'm not Chinese.
I actually grew up inOklahoma until I was like 19.
And then I movedto San Francisco and spent like 10 years here,and then moved to New York.
So yeah, I'm not a Chinese chef.
It's pretty insane.
So then because of that, tryingto learn all these recipes, we would come out the gatesswinging for the fences.
It was like, how can we makeMapo tofu 300 times better than it actually is? And how manyingredients can we use? And so the firstversion of Mapo tofu had like 33 aromaticingredients in it.
And then we got thatout of our systems.
And then we realized,well, it's kind of like linguine and clams.
You can't really do much toimprove linguine and clams, in its truest form.
You're not going to do much.
It's just a perfect flavor.
It's like a caprese salad.
There's insanely goodbuffalo mozzarella, and basil and olive oil and sea salt.
You can't– you can do a lotof things to dress that up.
But we're acknowledgingthe fact that yeah, maybe sometimes you needto pull back on the 33.
So now there'seight ingredients.
And we're just makingregular Mapo tofu.
But we're using a little bit ofaged beef fat and some really amazing pork.
We're just elevating theingredients that we use, and then learning thetechnique, and applying it.
So it's really interesting.
Again, there's no– I thinkthe book really spells out how to make Chinese food— orour version of Chinese food— if you feel like it.
And it also isvery entertaining.
Because you can actually seehow it all has been evolving and has evolvedinto what it is now.
LIV WU: So it's interesting tome that your process was never, let's go to China.
Let's go to [INAUDIBLE].
CHRIS YING: Oh, we did that.
DANNY BOWIEN: We did that.
CHRIS YING: We did that threemonths– this is actually the craziest story.
LIV WU: Let's hear it.
CHRIS YING: I somehowtalked Danny into, like, we should do thiscookbook, when the restaurant was like a week old.
I was like, you know whatwould be really great for this cookbook isif we flew to China and you did a pop-up inChina and saw how that went.
DANNY BOWIEN: So I'dbeen working inside of Mission Chinese Foodfor a little while.
But Mission Chinese Foodwas originally a pop-up.
Mission Chinese Foodin San Francisco is owned by a Chinese family.
It's called Lung Shan.
The restaurant iscalled Lung Shan.
There's no actualMission Chinese Food that exists in San Francisco.
It was actuallycalled Lung Shan.
And we did a pop-up insidecalled Mission Chinese Food.
And it just never ended.
So there's no– I mean,it's just Lung Shan.
But what happens is, I'm sittingthere in this restaurant.
I don't speak Chinese.
I was working withonly Chinese cooks, showing them myversion of Chinese food and how to make Chinese food.
They're looking atme like I'm crazy.
And then we go to China.
So I have this weirdchip on my shoulder.
I'm like, well, if I'mdoing everything wrong, I'm going to see howeveryone's doing it right.
So the first trip toChina– we've taken two– was kind of an ill-fated trip.
And it was just me kind of beinga young, ignorant, immature cook, and being like,prove to me that this is better than what I do.
And then the second trip wasactually the most telling.
Because at thatpoint, I'd kind of realized that I was veryfar from being the best chef in the world, orknowing anything about what I know how to do now.
And that was justa good life lesson.
It was like, don't be alittle punk, immature kid, and you can learna lot of things.
We've been to China twice.
The first tripwas right before– CHRIS YING: The first tripwas specifically funny.
Because one of thebig newspaper articles that made Mission Chinese SanFrancisco a big deal was Mark Bittman wrote an articlein "The New York Times" about MissionChinese and it being this cutting-edge restaurant.
And when something like thathappens to your restaurant– when "The New York Times"declares your restaurant to be one of the mostimportant ones in the country– you are besieged with business.
I think that theday that article was scheduled to come out, Dannywas like, let's go to China.
Let's just not be open.
Let's just close therestaurant and go.
DANNY BOWIEN: Well,we couldn't handle it.
CHRIS YING: I don't wantto deal with any of it.
DANNY BOWIEN: Yeah.
So we're getting pretty busy.
And we're orchestratingthis thing.
Because Lung Shan wasstill doing Lung Shan's 150-item Chinese takeout menu.
And we were doing MissionChinese Food next to them.
So their wok burner was here.
And ours was here.
And we were justgetting hammered.
And I was like, there'sno way that we're going to be able to handlethis onslaught of people that are going to come.
So let's just close andgo to China for a week.
And then we'll hopefullybond with each other– because we wentwith the owners– and kind of get our shittogether so that when we come back, we can all survive.
It was a great trip.
It was a good tripin a lot of ways.
I was very uncomfortable.
I was probably whininga lot about stuff.
But it was great.
Because we came back and thenit got really crazy busy.
I mean, the first yearof Mission Chinese– I remember Michael Bauer cameinto the Mission Chinese Food.
You guys should knowwho Michael Bauer is.
He's the SanFrancisco food critic.
And you know, there'sa song and dance that you do in therestaurants where you act like you don'tknow who the food critic is when they come in.
And then they act likethey're anonymous.
But obviously, as a chef, you'relike, holy shit everybody.
The food critic is here.
Make sure the tablesaround them are VIP.
Make sure that table's VIP.
Just let me taste everythingbefore it goes out.
But at Mission ChineseFood, we were just kind of screwing around.
It was our thing.
It was like our littleboys club, I guess.
We were just playing aroundtrying to make Chinese food.
I remember he came in.
And I walked next door toCommonwealth that had just opened– it hadn't opened yet.
And I was talking to Jason Fox.
I was like, hey, how's it going? He was like, good.
I was like, oh yeah.
Michael Bauer'snext door right now.
He's just having lunch.
He's like, oh, that's becauseyou're getting a review.
You should probably goback over there right now.
I was like, oh, no.
There's no– why would–there's no way in hell.
And so I had no idea.
I was like, there's no way.
CHRIS YING: You thought thatBauer was just stopping in.
DANNY BOWIEN: Yeah, hewas having a casual lunch.
CHRIS YING: The idea thatMission Chinese would be reviewed was sopreposterous that he just assumed that he was hangingout having lunch or something.
DANNY BOWIEN: Ithought the second time he came in, I was going upto him like, hey, Michael.
What's going on? Because I'd seen himat so many restaurants I'd worked at before.
You know who that is.
And then the article thatreally– the most proud I've been is wheneverMichael Bauer named– that's when thingsreally popped off, is when Michael Bauernamed me as a rising star chef in like 2011 or 2012.
And that was when itwas just, like, oh, god.
This is becoming serious.
All while working in thisrestaurant that's not mine, and with ownersthat had no idea.
They were like, why doyou make things so spicy? CHRIS YING: So the wholeMission Chinese Food story is success inspite of ourselves.
Closing down the day thatBittman's article came out is like a Christmas treelot closing for December.
DANNY BOWIEN: Yeah.
CHRIS YING: It was crazy.
We have to get toanother thing here.
DANNY BOWIEN: Oh, is ittime for that already? CHRIS YING: So ostensibly wemade this porridge because– DANNY BOWIEN: Welike to just be– CHRIS YING: Here, platethis thing while we finish.
DANNY BOWIEN: Oh,this is the porridge.
CHRIS YING: Yeah,this is the porridge.
DANNY BOWIEN: Oh, OK.
CHRIS YING: So Thanksgivingis around the corner.
And every single year forThanksgiving at my house, once the turkey's sort ofpicked clean and everything, we make stock out of the bones.
We just simmer the hell out ofit forever and ever and ever, and then make riceporridge out of it.
So ostensibly thisis a themed thing.
And when we were gettingready to come out here, we were talking to Victoria andtalking to some of the Googlers about what wouldbe a fun thing that would help makethis talk go faster and give Danny and Iless responsibility.
And the idea was that wewould get one of you guys to show us a dish that was sortof Mission Chinese-inspired for Thanksgiving.
And so a few of youguys sent in recipes.
And I picked onebecause it seemed like the one that wasleast likely to have ever been executed before.
I'm 100% convincedthat you've never made this and it's total bullshit.
So show us whatyou're going to make.
So Danny's just garnishingthis thing with– DANNY BOWIEN: I'm justgarnishing this up.
So egg– yeah.
You don't have to leave it onthe [? rip, ?] on your stove.
I think this is longerthan six minutes.
But what happens is you getan egg that's really nice.
Inside the yolk isn'tall brown or grey.
It's just cooked through.
Usually it's a littlebit runnier than this.
But we talked a little too long.
It's like that.
And it peels away really nicely.
There's some ofthat beef liquid.
There's some of the beef cheek.
There's some cilantro andginger scallion sauce.
And then we like to put a nicebig scoop of salmon roe on top.
CHRIS YING:Sometimes we do crab.
But currently crab inCalifornia is poisonous.
So we didn't do that.
DANNY BOWIEN: So I'm goingto pass this over to you.
You can eat this if you'd like.
CHRIS YING: But everyonewill get a taste.
I think the kitchen teamis hard at work at that.
LIV WU: Everybodywill get a taste.
DANNY BOWIEN: Thismakes a noise that sounds like it's really bad foryou to stand in front of it.
Just so you know.
CHRIS YING: This is Jeff.
JEFF DALTON: Hi.
DANNY BOWIEN: Let's givea hand to Jeff, everyone.
[APPLAUSE] LIV WU: So Jeff– CHRIS YING: What areyou making for us? JEFF DALTON: So you were right.
I've never madethis dish before.
He's completely right.
I just kind of made it up.
And actually my friend Alexover there who's also here– we kind of made it up togetherat exactly the same time.
We were just kind of lookingthrough the Mission Chinese stuff that we ate.
And we were like, whatdo we really love? We really love the Mapotofu that they have.
And at my house, it's notThanksgiving without stuffing.
So how many of you are going tohave stuffing for Thanksgiving? DANNY BOWIEN: Comeon, that's not– JEFF DALTON: I thinkmore of you, hopefully.
DANNY BOWIEN: Yeah.
CHRIS YING: How manypeople raised their hand? Like three people.
DANNY BOWIEN: It'sbeen these hands that would go up this high.
It's like when you'rein class and you kind of don't know the answer.
I don't know the answer.
Don't call on me.
CHRIS YING: What do youhave if not stuffing? There's no other pointfor Thanksgiving, other than stuffing.
DANNY BOWIEN: There'sa lot of other things.
CHRIS YING: Stuffingis the main attraction.
JEFF DALTON: Stuffingis the main thing.
I grew up in the Midwest.
DANNY BOWIEN: Oh, cool.
Me– JEFF DALTON: I'm from Michigan.
DANNY BOWIEN: Oh, nice.
JEFF DALTON: And so my momand grandma– this is actually a riff on my grandma's recipe.
DANNY BOWIEN: Oh, cool.
JEFF DALTON: She took the BettyCrocker, 1950, classic sage and stuffing, Wonder Bread–So we've got Wonder Bread, like back in the 1950s.
And this is a classic staplethat we have at my house for every thanksgiving.
CHRIS YING: Yourgrandmother was Sichuanese.
JEFF DALTON: Yeah.
So we're tweaking it alittle bit now, right? LIV WU: So Jeff,would you explain the process you went through? You saw somethingin "Go Hungry" that said, submit your recipe tothe Mission Chinese guys.
DANNY BOWIEN: Youwere just like, I just want to go make this thing.
JEFF DALTON: Yeah.
So I guess I justsaw the "Go Hungry.
" I saw the link thatDanny was coming.
And so I saw that there wasa recipe for Thanksgiving.
And it just kind ofhappened after that.
It was like, obviously Ihave to submit something.
So I was on the G Bus on myway into work, and just kind of whipped together amash-up recipe of what I wish I could make for Thanksgiving.
And this is kind of it.
AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] JEFF DALTON: What? AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] JEFF DALTON: That's true.
There's a bunch morerecipes, if you'd like to make another cookbook.
DANNY BOWIEN: Yeah, we will.
It's like, "Mission ChineseCooks Thanksgiving.
" CHRIS YING: I would alsosay that– if anybody else submitted a recipe andwe didn't pick it or whatever, I saw all the recipes.
And I was specificallylike, can we just do all of theseand Danny and I don't have to do anything? But we were shot down.
So I wanted to do all of them.
But I was denied my laziness.
LIV WU: Was it arequirement– I don't remember– that the recipeswere never cooked, never tested? CHRIS YING: No.
I would assume that most ofthem had been done before.
But I saw Mapo tofu stuffing.
I was like, that's bullshit.
DANNY BOWIEN: No, it makes–it's going to be great.
It's going to be great.
JEFF DALTON: So thisis basically– bread and tofu are pretty muchroughly bland things that are used as a basefor whatever you want.
So this is basically just likeyour Thanksgiving stuffing recipe that you have here.
You've got celery.
You've got onions and garlic.
We threw in some chili oilin there to get things going.
DANNY BOWIEN: Oh, nice.
You do realize you'redoing a better cooking demo than I did already.
I just was like,put things in a pot.
Not too long.
Toast this rice.
JEFF DALTON: [INAUDIBLE]I'm just an amateur.
DANNY BOWIEN: Is thereanything I can do to help you? CHRIS YING: Yeah,put Danny to work.
DANNY BOWIEN: I can actually–I do know how to cook things.
CHRIS YING: PutDanny to work here.
JEFF DALTON: Go for it.
DANNY BOWIEN: Yes, sir.
If you guys are Instagramming,make sure you see this part.
Danny Bowien actually does cook.
He doesn't just stand– JEFF DALTON: This isSichuan peppercorn.
So this is one of my favoritethings about Sichuan cuisine.
DANNY BOWIEN: Yeah.
So you know how tocheck– I've found a very amazing way to searchfor good Sichuan peppercorns.
Because you know,up until recently, Sichuan peppercornsin the US were banned.
The FDA didn't– theyweren't approved.
JEFF DALTON: They're notactually peppercorns, right? LIV WU: They thought itwas the same virus that caused citrus disease.
So the citrusindustry absolutely refused to let Sichuanpeppercorns in.
There was no connection.
DANNY BOWIEN: So a lotof places– the way they would let itcome into the States years ago is they wouldheat-treat or irradiate the Sichuan peppercorns.
Because for somereason, they thought that if they brought thepeppercorns to the States, something crazy would happen.
Like we would have some crazyoutbreak of– I don't know.
But anyways, whenyou do that, it takes a lot of the numbingqualities away from them.
So when you look forSichuan peppercorns, you want to look– it shouldlook like an ear canal.
It's actually a berryfrom the prickly ash tree.
But they should be open.
And it should lookreally like an ear canal.
That's a boring fact for you.
LIV WU: Nerdy.
DANNY BOWIEN: FYI.
Anyways, I'm sorry.
I'm stealing your spotlight.
JEFF DALTON: No, no.
You can mince thegarlic, as well.
I'm not going to bothermincing it and grating it.
Otherwise, somebody's goingto get some lucky garlic bits in there.
DANNY BOWIEN: That's good.
JEFF DALTON: Sothis is basically– if you look inDanny's recipe book, he has a recipe for your MissionChinese Mapo tofu spice here.
So this has got themushroom powder.
This has got theSichuan peppercorns.
It's got the ground-up chiles.
DANNY BOWIEN: Oh, nice.
JEFF DALTON: So really, it's asspicy as you want to make this.
You can crank upthe heat or not.
DANNY BOWIEN: Yeah, go for it.
CHRIS YING: You're justgoing to bam it up.
Bam it up over there.
DANNY BOWIEN: Yeah, bam.
This is your moment, ifyou've ever wanted to do that.
CHRIS YING: How are you notgoing to bam that right there? JEFF DALTON: Bam.
I missed it.
DANNY BOWIEN: Everyone'ssupposed to– that's when the whole crowdstands up and like– CHRIS YING: Danny in the bookreally accurately identified that whenever Emeril waskicking it up or putting some extreme amountof stuff into it, it was always actuallya very tiny amount.
DANNY BOWIEN: Oh, it'sa ramekin this big.
It's like thesethings he has here.
Just, bam! It's like when Oprah'slike, everyone's getting a free tripto the Caribbean, or something like that.
He's just like, garlic.
Everyone's like, yes! JEFF DALTON: Sothis is the bread.
DANNY BOWIEN: Itused to be so easy.
JEFF DALTON: This is the bread.
LIV WU: I have to tell you,that is not Wonder Bread.
Did you specify– JEFF DALTON: This is– LIV WU: Did you– youbrought Wonder Bread? Or did we prep it here? JEFF DALTON: Ibrought Wonder Bread.
LIV WU: OK.
We don't do Wonder Bread.
JEFF DALTON: Yeah.
I didn't think you'd have WonderBread at the Google kitchen.
So I had to bring it.
DANNY BOWIEN: Nice, nice.
JEFF DALTON: Sothis is basically like the 36thversion of Mapo base.
DANNY BOWIEN: Oh, cool.
I wonder how that tastes.
I'm sure it's delicious.
JEFF DALTON: Sothis is basically– DANNY BOWIEN: It looks right.
JEFF DALTON: –Mapo tofu– DANNY BOWIEN: Oh, cool.
JEFF DALTON: –minus the tofu.
DANNY BOWIEN: Did you makeall this at your house? JEFF DALTON: Yeah, I did.
I made this last night.
DANNY BOWIEN: Oh my god.
JEFF DALTON: I figuredI should make it.
CHRIS YING: Crazy.
DANNY BOWIEN: You know, youcould have just called him and we could havebrought it for you.
And you could havebeen like, this is version 36 of– so next time,I can make it easier for you if you want.
JEFF DALTON: Yeah.
So this has got a lot of thepork stock, chicken stock– it's Thanksgiving, so maybeyou have some leftover turkey stock.
DANNY BOWIEN: Yeah, of course.
LIV WU: So you call itstuffing, not dressing.
Because that is a bone ofcontention in American culture.
It's stuffing in yourneck of the woods.
JEFF DALTON: So my momalways calls it stuffing.
It will always be stuffing.
LIV WU: It actuallygoes in the bird.
JEFF DALTON: It used to.
It doesn't anymorenow that I'm cooking.
LIV WU: OK.
JEFF DALTON: But westill call it stuffing even though it's not stuffing.
LIV WU: OK.
It's actually safer.
CHRIS YING: Yeah, but– JEFF DALTON:Stuffing is kind of– CHRIS YING: Nobodycalls it dressing.
Who calls it dressing? That makes no senseto me whatsoever.
LIV WU: In theSouth, in the South.
DANNY BOWIEN: It'slike calling soda pop.
Who calls it pop, man? CHRIS YING: Yeah, man.
I mean, technically,somebody does.
DANNY BOWIEN: People do.
I think it's somewhere.
CHRIS YING: Yeah.
But not in my household.
DANNY BOWIEN: They callit pop in Oklahoma.
CHRIS YING: That's true.
DANNY BOWIEN: And they callit dressing in Oklahoma, too.
CHRIS YING: [SIGH] DANNY BOWIEN: Sorry, Chris.
CHRIS YING: We'rein California now.
DANNY BOWIEN: Yeah, I know.
JEFF DALTON: So thisis basically it.
You could havesauteed some sausage, and put everything else in here.
Or you could have justgone to Danny's restaurant and gotten some takeout.
DANNY BOWIEN: Yeah.
You can just come ask us tohelp make your life easier and buy some of just the base.
But I would haveto explain that.
You'll have to translatefor me and tell [? Su and ?] [? Yung ?] that people aregoing to be coming to buy just the Mapo sauce cold.
CHRIS YING: TheGoogle Bus is going to pull up outside Lung Shan andpeople are going to come up– DANNY BOWIEN: 86pints of Mapo base.
JEFF DALTON: And thenit's basically just, combine it together, right? DANNY BOWIEN: And since thebread is nice and dried, it's going to soak up allthe moisture from this.
And then you wouldneed to add more stock if it's not wetenough, or– do you like to have your dressingbe more wet or dry? JEFF DALTON: That's thebig question, right? So how do you likeyour dressing? Do you like it crunchy? Do you like it dry? Soggy? Some people like italmost like bread pudding.
JEFF DALTON: Yeah.
JEFF DALTON: I like mineon the crispier side.
DANNY BOWIEN: Yeah, me, too.
JEFF DALTON: I don't likeit if it gets too soggy.
It's like eating bread pudding.
And the bread never comes back.
CHRIS YING: Let meask you, though.
If you're not a Chinese person– JEFF DALTON: Yeah.
DANNY BOWIEN: Theoretically.
CHRIS YING: And you'relike, oh, family dinner.
Everyone's coming over.
All my whitefamily's coming over.
And I'm trying to pull outthe Mapo tofu stuffing.
Are you going to just havea full-scale rebellion on your hands? Like, what are youtrying to do here? DANNY BOWIEN: I thinkif you didn't tell them that it's Mapotofu stuffing, they would just be like, this isa really delicious stuffing.
CHRIS YING: But people don'tlike their Thanksgivings– DANNY BOWIEN: –spicy.
CHRIS YING: –messedaround with.
They want Stove Top.
DANNY BOWIEN: There's nospice in Thanksgiving.
CHRIS YING: Yeah.
DANNY BOWIEN: It is just abunch of butter and sage.
Whoever grows sage–when do you buy sage, except for Thanksgiving? I always see peoplefreaking out.
They're like, doyou have savory? Or do you have marjoram? That's the one holidaythat the herb growers– CHRIS YING: Right.
If you're a sagefarmer, it's tough times until November– ora cranberry farmer.
DANNY BOWIEN: Yeah.
I think Thanksgiving shouldalways be a little spicier, personally.
JEFF DALTON: Sohow do you like it? DANNY BOWIEN: Somy mom used to make stuffing very similar to this.
She would save–we'd make cornbread.
She would save theleftover cornbread.
And she would dry that out.
And she would take WonderBread or white bread and dry that out untilit was like that.
And then she would add abunch of dried sage and thyme and butter.
And then she would also takea box of Stove Top stuffing, and then canned chicken stock.
I mean, I grew up in Oklahoma.
But she would cookit like a cake.
And it was very– you could pickit up and eat it like pizza.
It was really cool.
There was celery.
It was basically whatyou're making now.
I don't understand howit's the same thing.
Hers didn't have any meat in it.
It just had chicken stock.
But I like it where you canjust pick it up and eat it with your hands.
JEFF DALTON: Yeah.
DANNY BOWIEN: I don't thinkanyone here has probably ever had it that way.
It's very wrong, but very right.
I liked it.
So do you do egg in there? JEFF DALTON: I dodo egg in there.
So eggs are optional.
Sometimes I don'tlike it too eggy.
DANNY BOWIEN: Yeah.
JEFF DALTON: Let's see.
DANNY BOWIEN: You can justcrack them into here, maybe.
And then we can stirthis together and then stir it back in.
CHRIS YING: Stuffing'sone of those things.
I didn't– I don't know whatit's supposed to look like.
Like, I don't knowwhat pot roast is.
I never had that growing up.
So I don't know what that'ssupposed to look like.
DANNY BOWIEN: It'slike stew, right? CHRIS YING: I've never seen one.
So it's like, if I tryto make one, I'm like– DANNY BOWIEN: Wheredid you grow up? In California? CHRIS YING: I grewup in California.
DANNY BOWIEN: All right.
Does everyone else in hereknow what pot roast is? Oh.
CHRIS YING: There'sAsian people who don't know what pot roast is.
We have no ideawhat pot roast is.
DANNY BOWIEN: Yeah, butthere's– yeah, you're right.
The egg goes in.
Mix it all up.
JEFF DALTON: Mix itwith a little broth, so you don't get littlebits of egg, maybe.
DANNY BOWIEN: Are you– doyou own a restaurant somewhere or something like this? CHRIS YING: Dude.
You're killing it, man.
DANNY BOWIEN: Andthen you just want to bake it until it just sets.
JEFF DALTON: Bakeit until it's set, until the top gets a littlenice and golden brown.
Make sure it's crispy.
And I think that's about it.
DANNY BOWIEN: Oh, cool.
JEFF DALTON: So I think it'smaybe about 45 minutes at 350 degrees.
CHRIS YING: Let'sactually stick it in the oven so it'sdone by the time we're done signing books and stuff.
JEFF DALTON: Sounds good to me.
LIV WU: So while we wait forthat, are there questions? DANNY BOWIEN: Yeah.
Who has questions? LIV WU: Questionsfrom out there? DANNY BOWIEN: Hey thanks, man.
Let's give a nice– JEFF DALTON: Thank you.
[APPLAUSE] AUDIENCE: Hi.
DANNY BOWIEN: Wecan take heat, too.
So ask us.
You can ask us veryuncomfortable questions.
Please don't ask thefollowing questions.
What's your favorite restaurant? So hopefully you weren'tgoing to ask that.
DANNY BOWIEN: Please don'task New York versus San Francisco, because I'mnot going to answer that.
And also, please don'task the last thing I would eat before I die.
Because hopefully Idon't die anytime soon.
Those are the only–other than that, if you want to ask anything else.
So I had a chance toeat at your restaurant in New York in the last month.
It was great.
DANNY BOWIEN: Cool.
AUDIENCE: So Ihad two questions.
Can you tell us the story behindhow pizza made it to the menu? And then, did youever find it ironic that beggar's duck costs $100? DANNY BOWIEN: Well, toanswer your first question, pizza got on the menu whenwe moved into the restaurant in New York.
The space is like–everyone here has been to Nopa before, right? It's bigger than that.
So the restaurant beforewas like 40 seats.
And it was in a1,000 square foot space in the Lower East Side.
And then now it's like–I don't even know.
It's very, very big.
It's like 140-plus seats.
Plus we have aprivate dining room.
So when we moved in– thishad been a restaurant before.
And there was abrick oven there.
And for me, we always–when we reopened Mission Chinese inNew York, I had a lot to prove to myself personally.
But also I was sotired of living by the guidelines of justbeing in fear of failure.
Because I'd clearly alreadyjust failed the worst way you could possiblyfail as a chef.
So when I opened upagain, I was like, I'm just doing this for me now.
I'm not doing itfor the critics.
I don't give a shitwhat anyone else thinks.
If I know that it's good, andit's something that I really love and like– and that'swhat food and cooking is all about anyways– thenI want to make it.
And then hopefullythat happiness that I'm projectinginto this dish will translate to peoplethat are eating it.
And also, becausenot everyone wants to eat Sichuanfood all the time.
So a lot of kids wouldcome in, and their friends would come in, tothe old restaurant.
Say David Chang comes in.
And he's eaten at therestaurant before.
What can we give him that he'sdefinitely not going to expect? We do this tofriends all the time.
So we used to justorder a bunch of pizza at the originalMission Chinese Food.
And if you came in, atthe end of your meal, instead of sendingyou dessert, we'd just drop a wholepepperoni pizza on you.
And it's kind of like asmartass way for chefs to torture each other.
But also it was like, well, ifyou come in with your family and your six-year-oldis there, they can't eat rippinghot chicken wings.
We should be ableto make a pizza.
So then as a chef, wejust obsessed on that.
And I was like, I reallylove Naples-style pizza.
I really admire whatAnthony does at Una Pizza Napoletana in San Francisco.
So I called Chad Robertsonup from Tartine Bakery.
And I was like, hey, Iwant to make the sickest, authentic– this is the onlyauthentic thing I want to do.
I want to make a real,true, Naples-style pizza.
But I want to use the TartineBakery sourdough starter.
Can you make that happen? Chad's very excited.
He comes out.
He flies up from SanFrancisco to New York.
And he's like, here's how.
Let's do it.
Here's our starter.
So we put togetherthis dough recipe.
All the ingredients that go onthat pizza are certified DOP.
So it's San Marzanotomatoes, buffalo mozzarella from [? Concerta ?].
Everything is basically fromNaples that goes on that pizza.
But in true MissionChinese fashion, if you want to just throwall that out the window, we'll throw a pepperonion it for you for $0.
So that's how thatdish came about.
And it's still my favoritething on the menu.
I eat it like once a week.
CHRIS YING: But when Dave camein, the first thing he did– DANNY BOWIEN: Oh, andthen David Chang comes in, and just is like, oh.
So DOP is like– I don't know ifyou guys know what that means.
But it's kind of likethis stamp of approval that's given to certainfoodstuffs in Italy.
So it's basicallya mark of quality.
So like in theUS– it's like when people call champagne champagne,it has to come from Champagne.
It has to be a certain– there'sall these specifications it has to meet.
They do the same thing in Italywith prosciutto, mozzarella– CHRIS YING: Parmesan.
DANNY BOWIEN:Parmesan, especially.
So it's all protected bythis stamp of approval.
So a lot of restaurants,if you go to a restaurant, it's like DOP this or DOP that.
You know it's justthe best of the best.
David Chang comes in.
And the first thinghe does is just dump Mapo tofu on his pizza.
He's like, this isgoing to be amazing.
He puts that on Instagram.
CHRIS YING: One of theugliest Instagram photos.
DANNY BOWIEN: I can'ttell you how many people came in asking for that.
And they wouldorder the Mapo tofu.
Can I get that whenthe pizza comes out? And they pour it on top.
And then your second question,which I forgot already– what was your second question? AUDIENCE: It was, didyou find it ironic that beggar's duck costs $100? DANNY BOWIEN: So I thinkthat's a good question.
Because I don't find it ironicthat beggar's duck costs $100.
Because I think ifyou go to R&G Lounge– the first time Iever– I've never actually had beggar'schicken before.
That dish is inthe book, actually.
And that's a riff onbeggar's chicken, which is a whole chicken that'sstuffed inside of a lotus leaf and clay and then baked.
And the idea behind thatis it was a peasant dish.
The fable was that there wasa beggar out in the streets.
And the emperorwalked by and smelled this beautiful, wonderful smell.
And this beggar had justgotten this chicken that was thrown to them, andwrapped it in lotus and clay, and threw it into afire and roasted it.
And then I guess– CHRIS YING: Well,so it's not ironic.
Because first of all– DANNY BOWIEN: So then he waslike, this is so delicious.
And it became partof the staple– am I fucking this story up? Is this the right story? CHRIS YING: A little bit.
DANNY BOWIEN: All right.
Anyways, somebodyWikipedia that.
Or Google it.
CHRIS YING: First of all,the whole apocryphal story is the beggar had a duck but hedidn't have a way to cook it.
So he covered it in mud andclay and cooked it that way.
It was the onlyway he could do it.
And he didn't wantthe juices and smells and everything escapingso people would take it.
So the whole idea is thatthis is a very valuable thing.
And you want tocook it as carefully and protect it asmuch as you can.
And then, it's notironic that it's $100 because Itested that recipe.
It is a fucking pain inthe ass to make that.
DANNY BOWIEN: Beyond all that,if you go– at your house, if you go to buy areally nice duck, that's going to set you back, Iwould say, $30 minimally.
If you buy enough duck fatto confit a whole duck in, that's going to set you back– CHRIS YING: $60 more.
DANNY BOWIEN: So it'sactually cheaper just to come to the restaurant.
That dish actually ischeaper just to come eat it at the restaurant.
CHRIS YING: If that beggarcould make a business out of selling his duck– DANNY BOWIEN: Yeah.
It should just becalled Beggar's Duck.
That's the next restaurantwe're going to open.
DANNY BOWIEN: Anyways.
AUDIENCE: Thanks for coming.
How did you two meet? DANNY BOWIEN: Wellso we met– I always say the most inappropriatethings when people will say how did you meet.
But the true story is that wemet at Mission Street Food.
And we met through AnthonyMyint, my other half of Mission Chinese.
And Chris– I thoughtChris was a line cook.
Because at MissionStreet Food, it would be these guest chefsthat would come in every week.
And I was just helping out.
So you would justmeet different people.
And I would see, Chris wouldjust always kind of be there.
So I thought he was a chefor a cook for so long.
Because he knewhow to line cook.
And we would helpother chefs out.
But that was like– how longdid I think you were a cook? Until you werelike, oh, actually I work for "McSweeney's"at the time.
And I'm a writer.
CHRIS YING: Yeah.
Probably for like sixmonths we were cooking next to each other.
And then maybe when I waslike, we should do a book, he was like, what do youmean we should do a book? I thought you– are youa writer or something? I was like, oh, Ijust come here– DANNY BOWIEN: He just comes hereevery Thursday to help cook.
And then all the other daysof the week he had a real job.
So that's how we met.
AUDIENCE: I want to prefacethis question by saying I really like cooking with MSG.
My question is, one, isthere MSG on the tortillas at Mission Cantina? DANNY BOWIEN: No.
AUDIENCE: And two,what role do you think MSG should play in the kitchen? DANNY BOWIEN: I think itshould play– so you know, Anthony Bourdain asked methis question the other day.
I am not reallyone to ever say– I don't like livingby absolutes.
So if you want touse MSG, use MSG.
If people– if you like that–I understand economically, for some restaurants andrestaurateurs and restaurant owners, if you have arestaurant that's selling a rice plate for like $5, and it'sa whole duck leg on rice, and there's some MSGon there to make it taste a little better orwhatever, that's on you.
I don't think there's a right orwrong way, unless it's harmful.
Which it has not beenproven harmful to your body.
We don't use MSGin the restaurants.
No, there's no MSG on thechips on the chips at Mission Cantina.
Although now that you saythat, there probably should be.
We can get away with itthere because it's not a Chinese restaurant.
CHRIS YING: It's likea shortcut, though.
It's like a different wayof getting to a thing.
DANNY BOWIEN: Yeah.
It basically shortensthe path of– you know, when you take something likea beef cheek, for instance, and you sear it andyou braise it really slowly in stock, what happensis you're basically pulling out lots of umami.
When you searsomething– there's a lot of technical termsto explain why things taste better when you sear them.
There's like a Maillard reactionwhere protein actually converts to flavor when you sear it.
But long story short isMSG is just a shortcut to get that very unctuousumami flavor that you get when you cook a bolognesesauce for like six hours.
You can just sautesome meat in a pan, put some tomatoesthere, and MSG, and it will taste pretty good.
So I think that MSG playsa role in lots of things.
You know, it's funny.
I've always thought Chinesefood gets this bad rap for using MSG.
If you go to Japan,which is also one of my favoriteplaces in the world, there's MSG in some oftheir sports drinks.
There's MSG in likeeverything in Japan.
But no one ever saysanything about that.
And I don't understand why.
Because it's notreally a bad thing.
All the pickles that youget at Japanese restaurants, usually there's MSG in them.
There's NutraSweet in a lotof pickles in Korea and Japan.
Because when you addthat as a sweetener, it actually gives it adifferent crunch and your palate registers it differentthan just sugar or salt.
So I mean, again, it'snot like I'm saying go home and cook with MSG.
But if you buy the bookand you're like, hey, I want to do thisand this and this, am I going to get mad at youif you put MSG in the food? I don't care.
It's your food.
It's not evil.
I guess that's the– AUDIENCE: Hi.
Can you talk about the process,or the thought process, that you go through whenyou create a new dish? Is it like, oh, Ihave this flavor.
What can I do with it? Or is it like, oh.
Do you take something.
You're like, what canI do to improve it? Can you walk us throughhow the process starts and how you take itfrom start to finish? DANNY BOWIEN: Sure.
So luckily enough now,we're five years in.
So we're actuallysurrounded by lots of really great young cooks and chefs.
And usually thethought– the idea in the beginning ofMission Chinese Food is like, I just want tofigure out how to make this.
So I would just go eat atSpices II in San Francisco.
And I would eat there andhave all these crazy dishes, like pig ears tureen in liketingling oil and Mapo tofu.
And that would serveas inspiration.
Then sometimes, inthe very beginning, that was the thought process.
I'd be like, howdo I decode this? Because no one's goingto give me a recipe.
It's not like–five years ago, you couldn't really look up a recipefor tingling pig intestine.
You can't really find that.
So then I think now,where we're at now is like we'll get an item.
It could be like we'll havea good meal at a restaurant and get inspired by just howsomeone's plating something.
Or you'll get a dishlike koji, for instance.
We use koji, which is aculture that's made with rice.
And it's been usedin Japan forever.
But we will cure things in that.
That's a good example.
So the koji friedchicken in the book– we had this koji culture.
And we were like,how can we use this? And how do we make this? And what is thisthing all about? And that kind of informed–it was like, well, I've always wanted to make thebest [? Hunanese ?] chicken.
That's my favorite dish.
But I don't think that alot of people get that dish.
Because [? Hunanese ?]chicken is chicken that's just been poached perfectly.
And then it'susually served cold with the liquid thatit was cooked in and some rice andginger scallion sauce.
So that process was like,let's try to use koji.
Let's try to make friedchicken without dredging it in anything, with super crispyskin, that's gluten free.
So you're not puttingany flour on it.
And let's make it tastelike [? Hunanese ?] chicken because that's my favoritething in the world.
So it's kind oflike a super-ADHD– like, this is a good idea.
And then this isalso a good idea.
And hopefully this all works.
But we've been chasingafter trying to recreate a lot of other things.
The worst thing you can dowhen you're thinking of recipes or having a throughprocess is trying to match somethingyou've done before.
I think that forthe longest time, I was like, how do we makeanother thrice-cooked bacon? How do we make anothersalt cod fried rice? How do we make anothersick version of Mapo tofu? And after a while, it wasjust like, how can we just stay with this and kind of justpush ourselves further ahead? So I think the thoughtprocess now isn't so much just trying to decode classicChinese dishes as it is just trying to create our ownvocabulary, our own kind of food.
Which is like– yeah, beggar'sduck and koji fried chicken and stuff.
So that's it.
LIV WU: We'll have alast question here.
This is super-weird.
Thanks for coming.
DANNY BOWIEN: No, it's good.
You don't have to use the mic.
We can just hang out right here.
I'm just reading alot on food blogs and reading diaries aboutchefs and their crazy nights and stuff.
I feel like I just hearthese crazy stories of other famous chefs showingup to other famous chefs' restaurants.
And I guess I'mjust wondering, when do these relationshipsstart developing? Is there a pointwhere David Chang drives up to a newchef's restaurant and inducts him into a secret– DANNY BOWIEN: You pee yourpants when that happens.
AUDIENCE: Like a secretfraternity of restaurants– they give you thekeys or like a cloak.
What's going on inthat secret circle? DANNY BOWIEN: Nah.
Usually you just make them eatpizza at the end of their meal and they get mad at you.
No, I mean, it's like anyother industry, really.
Especially the foodworld– I'm very fortunate.
I, five years ago, wasjust on every one of these chef's– my favorite chefs– andI still am– on their websites.
What's David Chang up to? What's [? Dan Boulud ?] up to? But it is a very tight-knitcommunity of people.
And it's also still avery blue-collar job.
We're not saving lives.
We're cooking food.
So there's a lot ofwork that goes into it.
I think that because ofworking 90 hours a week on like a restaurantor whatever, everyone just kindof gets each other.
And so any spare momentof time you have, when you meet someonethat's a chef you look up to or anything, youalways just want to try to make thattime count, and make it the best time for them ever.
At a restaurant,that's what my job is.
It's to make surethat when you come in, you just have an amazing time.
And you leave happierthan you– ideally, you leave happier than youwere when you came in.
And so to answer your question,meeting all these chefs– it's very surreal.
Especially in this industry,where you can actually just– I'm never going tomeet Michael Jordan, probably.
I'm also not in the NBA.
But it's the same thing.
If you're in theNBA, you probably run into these other guys.
And if you're not mean,and you're really nice, I think that it'spretty organic.
And also it's easy for me.
Because when I was New York,I wasn't making anything like Momofuku or Daniel Boulud or[? Daniel ?] [? Holm ?] or any of the fine dining chefs.
None of those chefswere– it wasn't any kind of competitive thing.
And I came in and gave out asmuch free food as possible.
And I was like, hey guys.
Here's a bunch ofstuff for your staff.
I really tried to go intoNew York the right way.
Because I was terrified.
San Francisco is themost amazing city because everyone is so nice.
And people kind ofgot what we did.
Because they were here,along for the ride.
But a lot of peopledon't get what we do.
People were justlike, oh, the guys at that place in the missionwith that other restaurant.
But in New York, Iwas really terrified that people were like,oh, these guys think they know what they're doing.
And they're going to comehere and get annihilated.
Which we did.
But luckily the other chefswere really nice to us.
LIV WU: Thank you so muchfor sharing your story, and your demonstration.
DANNY BOWIEN: Imean, that was– no.
Thanks for this demonstration.
LIV WU: Thank you.
It was a great story.
Thank you for coming.
DANNY BOWIEN: Yeah, cool.
LIV WU: There are tastes of theporridge in three locations.
You don't have togo to all three.
And if Jeff's stuffing isdone, we will pull it out.
DANNY BOWIEN: Jeff's stuffingsmells wonderful right now.
I'm not lying.
LIV WU: I'm sure it does.
DANNY BOWIEN: I'm not joking.
That smell you're smellingis not the rice porridge.
LIV WU: Thank you so much.
DANNY BOWIEN: Thank you guys.