The 2010 CHOW 13

The 2010 CHOW 13
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ILLUSTRATION MARCOS CHIN

ANTHONY MYINT

Chef and entrepreneur, Mission Chinese Food, Commonwealth

For redefining the concept of a restaurant. This was the year that borrowing another restaurant kitchen for a night and then broadcasting your location over Twitter became a popular pastime for adventurous chefs. Nobody took the concept of the pop-up restaurant in more creative directions than San Francisco chef Anthony Myint.

First, he did the truck thing. In 2009, Myint and his wife, Karen Leibowitz, started selling gourmet street food like pork belly sandwiches out of a taco truck he called Mission Street Food. It proved so popular Myint moved the operation into an ultradivey neighborhood Chinese restaurant.

One night, the menu might have been all stoner food (Cypress Grove goat-milk nacho cheese with hash browns), the next a tribute to the Le Fooding chef Inaki Aizpitarte (miso-poached foie gras). A portion of every night's sales went to a different charity. It was perpetually mobbed.

A pop-up burger bar in an Asian grocery store followed. Then Mission Street Food transformed into Mission Chinese Food, a Chinese restaurant inside the pre-existing Chinese restaurant. (You can order from either menu.) And most recently, Myint opened Commonwealth, a high-end traditional restaurant that donates a significant part of its tasting-menu proceeds to charities.

What was your most humbling moment?
We served a dish called poulet en vessie during an Escoffier tribute (although food historians do not necessarily credit him with inventing it). It was definitely a humbling moment to be squirting pig piss out of bladders, cleaning them, blowing them up like balloons to stretch them, and then stuffing them with truffled game hens. [Sous-chef] Danny [Bowien] notes that the dish costs 240 euros [roughly $300] for lunch at places in Paris, and Corey Lee is serving it at [new expensive San Francisco restaurant] Benu. The fact that ours was $16 is a real point of pride.

What's your alternative fantasy career?
It's pretty fun to be a charitable entrepreneur, but I would like to someday write a screenplay. I just need to magically become really witty. Hopefully that comes with age.

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