It was barely 9 p.m. last Friday evening, and the crowd at The Standard East Village’s newly revamped nightspot No Bar was jumping. Just a few days earlier, the space—which once housed Narc Bar, a sleepy cafe off to the side of the hotel’s main dining room, Narcissa—transformed into a “new wave gay bar” under the curated eye of the hotel’s newly minted Creative Director of Food and Culture, Angela Dimayuga.
The polymathic chef of Mission Chinese and Vinegar Hill fame signed on to the new, singular role last April, bringing her inclusive, intersectional, and style-driven approach toward food. As Dimayuga explains, she wanted to create a space that was disruptive, myth-busting, and, well, chic. “It’s not like this dusty dive bar that has pride flags in it 24/7 and New Orleans tchotchkes everywhere,” the stylish 33-year-old California native explains. “It’s like, no, it’s a nice, stylish place where anyone would be down to hang out. It’s just going to have programming ranging from tasteful to wacky—whatever we want to do. That’s really important to me.”
No Bar is a testament to Dimayuga’s ability to converge her passion for food, fashion, music, and identity into a showstopping evening, and it’s also a preview of what the creative has in store for The Standard hotel brand, which turns 20 years old this year. Dimayuga is intent on creating holistic, community-driven programming for The Standard’s East Village and upcoming London locations, just as she did at Mission Chinese, where she curated the experience, from the art on the walls to the spicy dishes served, creating a space that’s inviting to all.
Even after she left Mission Chinese in fall 2017, the creative’s freelance career consisted of equally purposeful projects that pushed the boundaries of what a chef was and is. Now in an office for the first time in her career, the chef hasn’t left any of these principles or innovation behind. Instead, she’s doubled down on them. “I think the changes that we’re making here, it’s becoming a space that I would want to be in. I think that’s what’s really cool about the way that we’re trying to move forward with The Standard. We all want to make these spaces that we would want to enjoy, right?”
Read on to learn how Dimayuga got her start in the kitchen, what it means to create an intersectional restaurant, and which designers she has her eBay searches set to.
TOP CHEF KIDS
“I wanted to be a chef ever since I was 5. I come from a big family, so my chores were doing laundry and then helping to cook, so I would watch cooking shows like Julia Child and Jacques Pépin on PBS, pre–Food Network, and then every opportunity that I had to continue thinking about cooking, I did.”
COOKING SPRINKLED WITH HUMANITIES
“I studied hospitality management in college for a second, but I became really interdisciplinary and wound up changing my major to humanities. It was the first time I was getting straight As because I was taking classes I liked. If I wasn’t cooking, I was interested in being in academia somehow. But then that’s why in my career I have diversified my work as a chef.”
THE NEW YORK FOOD HUSTLE
“I graduated from San Francisco State and moved to New York to check out the restaurant world. I worked in a cafe in Bed-Stuy that’s not here anymore, Tiny Cup. It was run by a female owner, Lisa Bayer, and I felt really encouraged by seeing that she was able to open up her own business and be a personal chef. Then I started a catering business based out of Toronto with my partner Suzanne Barr. I was 21 at the time and was making good money doing catering. Meanwhile, I had friends who were working at The Strand struggling with art student loans, and because I cared about cooking, I was able to do well financially and be independent.”
A CHEF’S ATTITUDE COMES EASY
“I didn’t know what it meant, but I was told when I got that first job at Tiny Cup that I had a ‘restaurant attitude,’ and I had the feeling of ownership, accountability, willingness to work hard. I did well in that job because I would get advice from the owner. I’d be like, ‘Maybe I should go to culinary school?’ and she’d say, ‘I don’t think you need to. Apprenticing is the way that you learned hundreds of years ago.’”
DIVERSIFYING THE FRENCH BRIGADE
“I really learned to cook through Jean Adamson, who I credit as my chief mentor. She has a restaurant called Vinegar Hill House, which I helped her open. I worked there for three years, and then Mission Chinese for six years. We are trained, I think, in media and the way food industry awards are given, to think that European food is the best and that ethnic cuisine is not well regarded or as technique driven. But, obviously, there is so much interesting stuff there. When I was at Vinegar Hill, I was making very rustic farm-to-table food inspired by French bistro cuisine and Italian cuisine—it was great. When I went to Mission Chinese, I was like, ‘Holy shit, I never thought about cooking Asian food before,’ and now I identify my food from my point of view as a Filipino-American, an Asian American, gaining influence from anything.”
GOING WITH HER GUT
“When I left Mission Chinese, I really wanted to take a year off to explore projects. Six months into it, this opportunity with The Standard came up. I closed out the last of the The Standard’s Chef’s Stand Up dinner series, which supports ACLU’s immigrants’ rights and other critical civil rights work, and that’s actually how I ended up working here. The concept around it was they got three female chefs to do dinners in Miami. Mine morphed into a little bit more than just dinner—it was still in support of the ACLU, but then [The Standard] got a bunch of artists and designers to donate graphic designs for a merch line for ACLU.”
COMING OFF THAT FREELANCE LIFE
“Because the dinner went really well, a few months later I got to meet The Standard’s CEO, Amar Lalvani. He had heard about all the weirdo collaborative things I had been doing. I was doing an artist residency. I was teaching classes for kids. I was doing food design jobs for a fashion label. I helped Arielle Johnson, who we’re working with here, start the fermentation lab at the MIT Media Lab. I had just gotten back from doing a pop-up kitchen in Hokkaido, Japan. Amar was like, ‘Maybe we should create a position for you as a creative director for the culinary program.’ I was super into it because I was so interested in diversifying what my role as a chef can be, and for other chefs, too. I was constantly at that time thinking about, there’s so much impact you can have as a chef.”
MIXING UP HER STYLE
“I’ve always been a person that’s interested in clothes. As a child, I remember throwing a fit because I couldn’t find my favorite Converse All Stars in aquamarine. I’m like, ‘Where are my shoes?’ Or like throwing a fit because I really wanted to wear matching sweatpants or a sweatsuit to bed. But a lot of it is just feeling comfortable. I am a person who’s comfortable in my own skin, and my interest in clothes is really just another extension for expressing myself. I loved, as a young line cook, working my ass off and knowing that I’m good at my job, and then afterwards changing. My coworkers were, like, ‘Oh, where’s she going?!’ I love that element of surprise. It feels really good, and then they actually get to know who I am.”