Even though restaurants are in his blood, Chef Guy Wong wasn’t always drawn to the kitchen. While his parents ran a restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia, Wong headed down a traditionally more lucrative path, studying finance, and then landing a much sought after position with AIG. From the looks of it, Wong might have stayed in a suit his entire career.
But when Wong headed to Japan in 2007, to study at the Institute of International Finance, his inner-culinary passion sparked—and then roared to life. Taking a break from his studies, Wong apprenticed at a local izakaya, learning the fundamentals of the cuisine and falling in love with the concept of the comforting, casual Japanese locale.
Wong returned to Atlanta with this newly invigorated appreciation for his family legacy. And when his parents’ restaurant closed, that culinary passion really came alive: his brother asked him to team-up and re-launch the family property, and Wong left the financial industry behind, for good. The two did what they always said they wouldn’t growing up: they put on chefs whites and ran the restaurant.
Wong might have had financial savvy, but it turned out he was also a natural in the kitchen. And in 2009, he actually broke out on his own, opening Miso Izakaya, a stateside take on his original Japanese inspiration. Not only is Wong’s traditional Japanese cuisine a favorite of in-the-know locals and chefs alike (and food writers; he was named one of the 2012 Atlanta Rising Stars), but his life on the line, working with a tight-knit crew, has eclipsed any former fiscal aspirations. Wong hopes to grow old working alongside his dedicated cooks. It may not be Wall Street, but it’s an uptick in its own right.