(Bloomberg Businessweek) -- As the new creative director of food and culture at Standard Hotels, Angela Dimayuga is charged with producing events that merge cuisine, design, fashion, and sound. At the Standard’s High Line outpost in New York, she’s already enlisted the queer Asian collective Bubble_T to transform the Jacuzzi at Le Bain into a “haute pot” art installation with floating sculptures of fish cakes and shrimp for a semimonthly dance party. And in Miami, during July’s Swim Week, she’s going to make an edible swimsuit sculpture out of kombu.
Dimayuga is best known as the founding executive chef of Mission Chinese Food in New York, an outpost of Danny Bowien’s cult San Francisco hole in the wall. The hit restaurant, with its rotating art installations and giddy Sichuan-inspired food, opened in 2012 when Dimayuga was only 26 years old. Her inventive cooking earned her a 2016 Rising Star Chef of the Year nomination from the James Beard Foundation. “She’s a force to be reckoned with, because her food goes beyond a restaurant,” says food writer and former collaborator Ligaya Mishan. “She doesn’t feel hemmed in by categories.”
Dimayuga grew up cooking for her five siblings in the Bay Area, where her father, an immigrant from the Philippines, managed a McDonald’s. In 2006 she moved to Brooklyn to work in restaurants, but she quickly realized she was different from her fellow cooks. “They’d go out to a local bar, go to bed, and do the same thing the next day,” she says. “I would go to art shows.”
In 2017 a writer for Ivanka Trump’s lifestyle website reached out to Dimayuga to profile her as a strong female entrepreneur. She posted a response that said, in part: “As a queer person of color and daughter of immigrant parents, I am not interested in being profiled as an aspirational figure for those that support a brand and President that slyly disparages female empowerment.” It went viral.
Last October, Dimayuga abruptly resigned from her post at Mission Chinese. During the next six months she helmed several food pop-ups, including a “dystopian tea party” in New York, and ran cooking workshops for kids at a Los Angeles art gallery. She’s even helped the New York City Department of Health establish safety regulations for fermented foods. “If you look at the projects I’ve done, they’re all multidisciplinary,” she says. “So I’ll do a food pop-up, and I’ll think about music, about performance.”
Currently, Dimayuga is consulting on design for renovations at the six Standard hotels and developing projects such as Chefs Stand Up, a series of themed meals supporting the American Civil Liberties Union. “I am really excited that the brand is pushing for the level up,” she says. “That was the draw.”
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