Channing Centeno

Bonnie's
Williamsburg, NYC
Usually dinner and the after-party don’t go hand in hand; But at Bonnie’s, the newest Cantonese restaurant in Williamsburg - they do (and then some). Bar Director Channing Centeno will quite literally captivate your attention behind the bar, so much so you won't want to leave to go to your table. But rest assured, you will be in good hands once you do. Just remember to take your MSG martini with you to the table.
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Full name, age, where are you from?

Channing Centeno, 32. Cleveland, OH.

What was growing up like for you and did you have family meals growing up?

I was raised by my mother and grandparents.

I would sit in the kitchen and watch my Lola (grandma) cook. Absorbing all the smells and love. When dinner was ready she would say " Channing, KAIN NA". Which means "time to eat" in Tagalog. It was my job to gather everyone in the house so we could sit down and eat.

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What are your earliest memories of dining out?

Going to Red Lobster with my family and eating so much shrimp scampi and cheddar biscuits. My Lola would sneak rice in her purse so we could eat all the seafood properly.

Was there a definitive moment or person that drew you to the restaurant industry?

My first job at 13 years old was at Velocity American bistro on the westside of Cleveland. I was the dishwasher there on opening night. By night 3 they moved me to busboy. I remember stopping for a moment in that energy filled dining room and thinking "I'm going to do this for the rest of my life".

If you could give a piece of advice to someone who wanted to pursue your career, what would it be?

Really embody the concept of  "surprise & delight". Discover the needs of your guests, your co-workers, your community, your investors and purveyors before they even know they needed them. Then, EXECUTE. Bring everyone around you unexpected joy. This in turn should bring YOU more joy than the people receiving. This creates a constant loop of gratitude. People are grateful for your work, and you are grateful for the opportunity to use your skills.

Also, be empathetic to everyone you encounter. It goes a long way.

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What do you think working in this industry during this time has taught you?

My identity relies very heavily on my work.

It is a blessing and a curse.

What's your favorite dish/drink on the menu?

The Black Tea Penicillin and the Salt + Pepper Squid.

What is your number one place to go out and eat, what are you ordering?

Estela:

-Tartare

-Arroz Negro

-Endive

- Foie Gras

-Whatever the feature protein is

-A Negroni

-A glass of bubbles

-2nd cheapest bottle of chilled red

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Word Association

Caffeine | Withdrawal


Munchies | Farideh


Shots | Mezcal


Condiment | Spicy


First date | Never again


Home | Mommy


Vice | A lot of them