2017 New York City Rising Star Chef Angela Dimayuga of Mission Chinese

2017 New York City Rising Star Chef Angela Dimayuga of Mission Chinese
January 2017

When she was 10 years old, San Jose native Angela Dimayuga knew at least one thing: She had to be a chef when she grew up. Throughout high school Dimayuga volunteered in a cafeteria. In college she continued her informal education, working various front- and back-of-house jobs to help pay the bills. Meanwhile, she earned a degree in humanities.

Eventually Dimayuga made her way to New York City, where she worked as a cook and a baker in a small cafe. Noticing her persistence and talent, the owner of that cafe encouraged Dimayuga to pursue a career in restaurants and even allowed her to use the cafe’s kitchen to get Dimayuga’s catering project off the ground.

When Vinegar Hill House opened in 2009, Dimayuga joined the kitchen under Chef Jean Adamson, whom she counts among her chief mentors. During her time there, Dimayuga worked with cooks who would go on to open The Meat Hook, Rockaway Taco, and Hartwood in Tulum, Mexico. It was a stellar band of cooks who pushed and inspired Dimayuga to grow. 

Next, she joined the crew at Danny Bowien’s Mission Chinese Food as sous chef, and was quickly promoted to chef de cuisine. After the Orchard Street location closed, Dimayuga was at the heart of launching the East Broadway Mission Chinese Food, where she now runs the kitchen (and the whole show) as executive chef, pulling inspiration from her Filipino roots to influence the restaurant’s punk-Szechuan cuisine.

Interview with New York City Rising Star Chef Angela Dimayuga of Mission Chinese

Antoinette Bruno: How did you get your start?
Angela Dimayuga:
I wanted to be a chef since I was a kid. In high school, I worked in the cafeteria as part of a work scholarship. I also worked restaurant jobs and found them really fun.
I considered going to culinary school but studied humanities. 

I moved to New York ten years ago and my first professional job was as a baker at a small cafe private chef woman who was really inspring. I moved to Vinegar Hill House, which was very formative working for chef Jean Adamson. I started when they were opening and saw how to start a business and kitchen from scratch with minimal equipment.

AB: Who's your mentor?
Jean Adamson. It was exciting to work for her as she was opening her own business; I watched and supported her. She always had her own goal to open her own business and to watch her do that was inspiring.

AB: What's the biggest challenge facing your restaurant?
I didn’t know what I was signing up for when I met Danny [Bowien], I never went to Mission [Chinese Food] in San Francisco. I never had Szechuan food which was the base of his menu. It was a challenge not knowing what I was getting involved in; it wasn't a national brand when I started. They’re constantly pushing to be more creative and progressive in their own way, and I was finding out what that is.

AB: What's your five year plan?
I want to continue collaborating, that part of the restaurant industry is big for me. I want to open something else, write a cookbook or two, explore a lot more of my Filipino heritage with food. 

AB: Has it been tough trying to introduce people to Filipino flavors?
Filipino food has challenging flavors and ingredients confusing for the American palate that hasn’t been around different cuisines. Filipino food can be hard to understand from a flavor perspective and it’s been underserved in restaurants.