In March, executive chef Anthony Myint helped open the eagerly anticipated Mission Bowling Club in its namesake San Francisco neighborhood. Before that, he co-founded Mission Burger and Mission Chinese Food with chef Danny Bowien, and co-owns another restaurant with charitable leanings called Commonwealth with chef Jason Fox, Ian Muntzert, and Xelina Leyba. At Mission Bowling Club, Myint’s already created definitive versions of classic dishes like the hamburger and corn dog. On April 10, we met there and subsequently spoke by e-mail, where Myint shared culinary insights that hint at why he’s been successful.
Was it a given that you’d become a chef, or did you consider other careers?
I started in market research surfing the web and writing reports. It was not very challenging and so I got into the food industry because I often found myself wondering why people didn’t do x,y or z better.
What’s the first dish that you ever remember cooking, and how did it turn out?
I cooked simple things like steak, but the first real dish I remember cooking was a Burmese soup called Ono Kauswe. It is a turmeric based coconut milk curry with chicken and a lot of garnishes. I might get some pushback on this, but I think it was better than my mom’s.
What was your very first night like working in a professional restaurant kitchen, and where was it?
My first night in a fine dining restaurant was at Bar Tartine, and it was also their first night. I had no idea what I was doing.
Would you say you’ve had any mentors over the years? If so, what did they teach you that was so valuable?
I learned most of the fundamentals from Jason Fox (Commonwealth) as well as a lot from Danny Bowien (Mission Chinese Food). They both run sharp but fun kitchens and strike desirable balances between complexity and clarity.
What do you look for when you’re hiring someone to work in your kitchen?
Intelligence, dedication and a sense of humor.
What’s your favorite part of working in restaurants?
The direct translation between what you’re dong and a result. You know if you cooked something perfectly and it’s satisfying. Recently I’ve had the satisfaction of working in kitchens with a charitable agenda, so that’s nice too.
Is there a person you’ve never cooked with before that you’d most like to cook with?
I’d be embarrassed to cook with any really world class guys. Maybe Christopher Walken?
Is there anything you don’t enjoy eating?
I’m allergic to crustaceans. Also probably overcooked/dry meat.
What do you want to be known for as a chef?
Striking a good balance between satisfaction, value and serving the community.