Since the mid-2000s, many Asian American chefs and restaurateurs have obtained mainstream acclaim by challenging the norms of the restaurant industry. Neither fully conforming to nor opposing industry norms, they reveal new forms of professional and cultural belonging that revise popular perceptions of Asian Americanness. I propose misfit professionalism as a critical concept to describe how this emerging generation of Asian Americans categorically mis-fits with institutional norms, resulting in a subject position socially defined by this mis-fitting. Exercising nonnormative professional practices in an industry where cultural traditions are tethered to professional norms, misfits authorize new narratives of Asian Americanness in popular literary genres like the cookbook. Their cookbooks employ a narrative device that I call the coming-to-career narrative, which challenges the genre's formal conventions. Examining the literariness of cookbook narratives, this article interrogates how industry professionalism engenders new understandings of race, gender, sexuality, and belonging in the twenty-first century.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 103-132
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.