Danny Bowien remembers the exact moment he first heard Van Halen.
The 2013 James Beard Award winner and co-founder of San Francisco’s Mission Chinese Food recalls the experience in Sonos‘ new Mind of a Chef episode, a Potluck Music Special that explores the relationship between music and food.
Discussing his strict religious upbringing, Bowien describes the time he secretly bought Van Halen’s Greatest Hits on compact disc, purchased with a gift certificate from his grandmother and bought along with two Christian albums to shield the so-called evil rock and roll from his parents’ careful watch. “I wasn’t allowed to listen to secular music, I was only allowed to listen to Christian music, which is horrible,” the chef says in the episode. On the ride home from the record store, Bowien quietly played the Van Halen disc in his headphones, and his life changed.
“The moment I put it on,” he says, “there was this crazy sensory experience. I was like that moment for me when I eat food. And I’m like ‘What did I just taste?’ Like the first time I had Szechuan food, I was like ‘How do I get more of this?’ Eddie Van Halen playing a solo it was challenging me in a way I was never challenged before. The moment I pushed play on that CD player, something clicked.”
That’s just one of the tales Bowien tells in the episode, which hits Netflix next year but is available to watch starting today on YouTube. The hour-long program enlists world class chefs like Anthony Bourdain, April Bloomfield, Sean Brock, and Inaki Aizpitarte and builds to a dinner party with Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, Nancy Whang of LCD Soundsystem), El-P, Vince Staples, and Meredith Graves of Perfect Pussy.
The episode features music from Willie Nelson, Al Martino, the Cure, Kate Bush, and of course, Van Halen.