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Oklahoma City is becoming a celebrity chef magnet

Danny Bowien returns to Oklahoma City and chef Rick Bayless confirms he will do a benefit for tornado victims later this month.
by Dave Cathey Modified: June 5, 2013 at 9:50 am •  Published: June 5, 2013

Two of this country's most celebrated chefs grew up in Oklahoma City, and while neither has a restaurant here, both have proved that this is where their hearts still lie.

A week ago, chef Danny Bowien of Mission Chinese Restaurant, which has locations in San Francisco and New York City, took the helm of the second night of the OK Chefs Relief Pop-Up Restaurant, which raised nearly $80,000 in two nights.

Later this month, chef Rick Bayless — one of the world's most celebrated chefs — will continue the good work started on Memorial Day weekend by Bowien and practically every chef in Oklahoma City.

Bowien was in town last week, and arrived back in town Sunday in time to see more devastation wreaked by a late burst of tornadic fury. On Monday, Bowien made a special appearance at Ludivine, 805 N Hudson Ave.

Owner/chefs Jonathon Stranger and Russ Johnson let the James Beard Rising Star Chef take the stove on Monday. The restaurant portion of Ludivine is closed Mondays, but the bar opens and serves a blue plate for $10. This week, those who showed up were treated to dishes from the Mission Chinese chef who grew up in Oklahoma City and graduated from Westmoore High School.

Bowien is also one of the cover boys for the July issue of Food and Wine, which is featuring the best new chefs in America. Bowien has come a long way from his days at Massengale Eye Care, where he worked and dreamed of becoming an eye doctor during his formative years. A jump to San Francisco to become a rock star didn't land Bowien on MTV, but it introduced him to the possibilities of what food could become and led to his current status as rock-star chef with Mission conquering both San Francisco and New York City.

Growing up with Sunday dinners at either Chelino's or Mandarin Chinese after church might not have inspired him to become a great chef, but when you see his intricate and playful interpretations of street food, its easy to see those joyful family occasions left an indelible impression.

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by Dave Cathey
Food Editor
The Oklahoman's food editor, Dave Cathey, keeps his eye on culinary arts and serves up news and reviews from Oklahoma’s booming food scene.
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