Katherine Sacks: What got you into cooking?
Guy Wong: My parents are chefs in Georgia. I studied finance and worked with AIG. When my parents’ restaurant closed, my parents didn’t want to do it anymore, but my brother wanted to reopen and asked me to join. And I did it with him. Growing up, we always said we wouldn’t do restaurants and now we are.
KS: Where did the idea of Miso Izakaya come from?
GW: In 2007 I went to Japan to study and I apprenticed at a local izakaya.
KS: Who are your mentors?
GW: My parents.
KS: What is the hardest thing you’ve had to do in your career?
GW: Balance between being owner and chef. When you’re [an] owner, you have to look at all aspects, not just the food, but whether the lights aren’t working properly, etc. When I opened, I struggled a little bit; you have to pay your vendors, and when you are strapped for cash, it’s hard to focus on food.
KS: What are you most proud of?
GW: My staff. I’m proud of my staff [for] staying with me and continuing to grow. As I’ve grown, they’ve grown along with me. To have people stay with you this long, for 3 years, makes me pretty proud.
KS: Where will we find you in five years?
GW: I don’t really look that far ahead. For me the ultimate career success is that I want to work on the line until I physically can’t do it anymore and then have the freedom to do what I want to do. To me, there is something about an honest day’s work.