Chef, owner, Bonnie’s
Jun 14, 2022
When Bonnie’s, a Cantonese spot by chef and owner Calvin Eng, opened in Williamsburg earlier this year, the city’s culinary masses flocked to the space — and hype for the unique restaurant has yet to die down.
That’s thanks to Eng, whose remarkable gastronomic skills have earned the attention of critics, locals and the sort of foodies who happily traverse the city in search of the next delicious thing.
Born in a Cantonese household in Bay Ridge, the 26-year-old chef learned how to cook from his mother, Mew Ha Chew, whose American nickname is Bonnie. “Everything I know about Cantonese food I learned from her and through her,” Eng told Brooklyn Magazine in December.
A former chef at dim sum parlor Nom Wah and, after that, the chef de cuisine at Taiwanese American restaurant Win Son, Eng is adamant about Bonnie’s position in the Cantonese culinary canon: He is not trying to serve you the sort of food that you can only get on a trip to China. Instead, Eng focuses on the American version of the fare that his mom prepared while he was growing up. There is, for example, a can’t-miss gourmet version of the McDonald’s McRib featured prominently on the menu. Enjoy it along with the szechuan cacio e pepe. “Everything on the menu has a story, and every story came naturally because it was literally just my ideas and background and upbringing all coming together in each dish,” he says. “It’s all personal.”
And it’s paying off. In March, Eng was named a James Beard finalist for 2022 (the winners will not be announced before this goes to press).