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Besides having ownership in three Nashville restaurants—Suzy Wong’s House of Yum, PM and BLVD— he was juggling multiple projects, including producing a documentary and a cookbook in honor of his late mother, the beloved restaurateur Patti Myint. He also was performing drag (as Suzy Wong, naturally), and ping-ponging between Nashville, New York, and Los Angeles.
When the pandemic stopped him in his tracks, Myint quietly closed his restaurants and retreated to a small desert town in Southern California to wait it out with a friend. With weeks on end to lose himself in cooking, he discovered an unexpected and welcome reprieve from the life he’d always known.
“I grew up in a restaurant, so it’s always been about the hustle,” Myint said. “Suddenly I had all this time, and I was cooking for two, not 400. I was making everything from scratch. It felt very new. Not rushed. I’ve never had the chance to approach cooking in such a pared down, personal way.”
Myint’s culinary point of view reflects his mother’s roots in Thailand. She passed away in October 2018, and her restaurant International Market, a Nashville landmark for 45 years, closed the following July. But her influence lives on as Myint finds comfort in recreating the recipes he learned at his mother’s knee.
“I’m cooking by myself in silence with her spirit on my shoulder guiding me,” he said. “Not thinking about feeding thousands of people, but thinking only about what’s in my mind and in my hands and on my plate.”
Myint is no stranger to the limelight. He’s already appeared in two cooking reality shows, which helped catapult him to national renown, but neither produced an offer for a cooking show of his own. Despite his hustle, that goal seemed to evade him before the pandemic.
“Every time I’d go in to meet with a network I felt like they wanted me to fill a role—the drag chef or the flamboyant gay chef or the Queer Eye guy,” Myint said. “I felt like I was only showing them one small piece of what I have to offer.”
Then, Myint received some encouragement from a longtime friend, film producer and videographer Stan Okumura.
“Stan said, ‘Why don’t you forget the pressure, let loose and just be the Arnold we know? Put out some videos on Instagram and see what happens.’ And literally when he said that, the lightbulb went on and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I can actually be me. I can just be Arnold,’” he said. “I started making these videos and having fun and it was very liberating.”
Arnold’s videos on IGTV chronicle his quarantine life, ranging from an instructional cooking video on how to make Pad See Ew (traditional Thai rice noodles) to a day of rock climbing in the California desert looking for a lost water bottle, to a slick music video in full drag.
“At some point I literally said to myself, f--k all this. I’m going to do me,” Myint said. “I’m just going to put myself out there. If I want to hike in a wig, hike in a wig. If I want to wear lashes and a gown to chop wood, why not?”
A funny thing happened after he put himself out there as “just Arnold.” Job opportunities came knocking, including a feature on the popular cooking platform BuzzFeed Tasty, as well as ads for Ralph’s (Kroger) supermarket chain and Chobani yogurt, to name a few.
“It’s pretty funny that because of my silly cooking videos on Instagram, I actually have been working quite a bit during quarantine,” Myint said. “It’s been a surprise, and I’m thankful for the income.”
Okumura isn’t surprised that audiences are embracing Myint’s videos.
“In addition to Arnold being an incredible chef, he's a very playful, creative and inspiring person,” Okumura said. “I believed that if his audience got to know the side of him that I know then his videos would be a hit—and they have been. It’s important to note in this present moment his cooking is not an escape from reality. He sets out every day to bring positivity and happiness to others. Dozens of times, I’ve seen him lift spirits and bring light to challenging situations.”
As Myint entered his third month of self-isolating in Southern California in June, his thoughts were with his staff and restaurants back in Nashville, where the city was in the midst of a partial re-opening even as the daily tally of COVID-19 cases continues to rise.
“As a chef, I’m heartbroken for my staff. I’m heartbroken for the restaurant industry,” Myint said. “PM is still closed and that’s out of the request and direction of the employees. Financially it’s stressful but the staff are doing OK. They know if they need money for rent or mortgage to just let me know.”
Suzy Wong’s House of Yum reopened in March with reduced occupancy and social distancing rules in place for drag shows. But BLVD remains closed (it was shuttered last year) while Myint and his sister Anna Myint work out a remodel that will position the restaurant to replace International Market and carry on its legacy.
“We’re curating the menu and working with the architect on the space,” Myint said. “When we reopen it’s going to be beautiful. But it’s not going to open anytime soon.”
The documentary and cookbook inspired by Patti Myint are steadily moving forward.
“When the timing is right, it’ll happen,” Myint said. “My sister and I have gone through so much with both parents passing away over the past two years, so this has been a good time for us to breathe and get caught up. But there’s no pressure.”
Myint’s main takeaway from his time in isolation? There is only so much you can control in life.
“It’s a very Buddhist approach,” he said. “I can’t control my environment, but I can control what I do and how I react to it. I really think it’s OK to be selfish right now and take the time you need. Self care is so important right now, because when you do that, it is going to ripple out and you are more able to help others.”
This article has been supported by a grant from the Facebook Journalism Project for COVID-19 coverage.
For those with a thirst to celebrate, Red Bull Unlocked is the key. In city after city, the most exciting bars, clubs, mixologists, performing artists, and more take over a local landmark building to showcase their signature ambiance while also collaborating for a must-see mashup. And now it's Music City’s turn to seize the spotlight, as the event brings 10 bars together in East Nashville’s Five Points neighborhood.
Fueled by the best of Nashville’s thriving music scene, Red Bull Unlocked has curated an eclectic night of show-stopping entertainment performances including a pop-up Whiskey Jam show, DJ sets, musicians, and more. The full lineup is here:
- Whiskey Jam (feat. Dozzi, Willie Shaw, and Johnny Hayes)
- A.B. Eastwood
- Daisha / Rap Girl
- Boom Bap (DJ Collective feat. DJ-Rate, Case Bloom)
- Whiskey Disco (DJ Collective feat. Coach, Jim O'Shea)
- Old Crow Medicine Show’s Jerry Pentercost (DJ Set)
- DJ Stretch
- DJ Griffin Green
- The Play Mates (Drag Show feat. Sasha, Vanity, Deception, Aura Mayari, Corlis Todd, and Carmin Triple C)
Counting down to the epic celebration, Daisha shares, “I never thought I’d have the opportunity to perform in so many of Nashville’s top spots all in the same night. Fans can expect a lot of bops and high energy. I want people to dance and have a good time.”
Ward Guenther, Whiskey Jam Founder, adds, “Red Bull has been enjoyed at Whiskey Jam since the very first night, so it's only fitting Whiskey Jam is enjoyed at Nashville's first Red Bull Unlocked. Looking forward to this!”
Red Bull Unlocked Istanbul
Photo courtesy of Red Bull
Local favorites including Pearl Diver, Tin Roof, Lipstick Lounge, White Limozeen, and more will join forces for one epic night. Full list of bars and partners below:
- The Dive Motel
- Lipstick Lounge
- Pearl Diver
- Play Dance Bar
- Rosemary & Beauty Queen
- The Stage
- Tin Roof
- Whiskey Jam
- White Limozeen
- Woolworth Theatre – Opening Fall 2022!
- Eleven Eleven - Opening 2023!
Date: August 21, 2022
Time: 6 PM – 11PM CT
Location: 1102 Forrest Ave, Nashville, TN 37206
Entrance: Ticked event
Rumble Boxing, the boxing-inspired group fitness studio, opened its doors for the first time in Nashville on June 20 at 609 Overton St, Nashville, TN. The hottest workout on the block is hosting its official grand opening from August 4th-7th with daily classes, membership specials, and prizes from local vendors. The new Rumble Boxing studio is currently offering a buy one class, get one free promotion for the Nashville community.
Rumble Boxing delivers 45-minute, 10-round, strength and conditioning group workouts, crafted around teardrop-style aqua boxing bags and high-intensity strength training circuits. This brings all fitness levels together to experience what Rumble is known for: combining the sweet science of boxing with high energy and positive vibes.
Rumble Boxing Fitness Studio
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
This boutique fitness brand offers serious benefits like increased stamina and strength, with cardio that’s actually fun. The seasoned trainers at the new studio are thrilled to serve their local community while offering this fun, new modern approach to boxing and welcome members of all fitness levels to the Rumble family.
The new Rumble Boxing studio is owned and operated by Blake Baskin and Antonio Compton. With their background in the fitness industry, this dynamic duo is excited to bring their passion for boxing and group fitness to Nashville. As business and life partners, Blake and Antonio aim to create a strong community within their new Rumble Boxing studio and share their message of non-apologetic inclusivity.
Black and Gay-Owned Business
Rumble Boxing Store with Dolly Parton Mural
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
“We own who we are, and this brand aligns with that perfectly,” said Antonio. “This is what we want to create and bring to this community: a fitness class that is designed for anyone and a place for people to be who they are. As a Black and gay-owned business, we want to help lower the division we see in the world right now. Our goal is to bring people together through Rumble, set everything aside, and have fun.”
To echo their message of acceptance and inclusion, Blake and Antonio commissioned a local Nashville artist to paint an 11 X 6-ft. mural of Nashville icon and philanthropist, Dolly Parton. The massive portrait features the country star in Rumble Boxing gear in the lobby of the studio.
The excitement and buzz around Rumble allowed Blake and Antonio to recruit top-tier trainers to head up the new studio, including Head Trainer Oronde Jones, a well-known celebrity trainer in the Nashville market.
Rumble Boxing Fitness Studio
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
“Compared to other fitness classes, Rumble is a class you can truly get lost in for 45 minutes. With the dark room, you don’t have to worry if anyone is paying attention to you. The music is awesome and inspiring, and the beat drops right when you need it the most. Also, with boxing being a sport you can never truly master, you’re always improving and crafting your skill. On the floor, you’re consistently doing something new, which prevents you from ever hitting a plateau.” Said Oronde Jones about his favorite part of Rumble.
Rumble has massive brand loyalty and widespread appeal, partly thanks to attracting top names like Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Kendall Jenner, Hailey Baldwin, Jason Derulo, David Beckham, and Kevin Hart to its studios.
About Rumble Boxing
Founded in New York City in 2017, Rumble is a group fitness concept delivering a mix (or combination) of boxing-inspired circuits and the transformative power of resistance training. Pro and amateur fighters glove up together, no matter their fitness level or skill, to reveal their inner fighter. The experience is a 45-minute, 10-round, full-body cardio and strength workout crafted around specially designed water-filled, teardrop-style boxing bags. Rumble was founded by Noah Neiman (former Barry’s Bootcamp Master Trainer, and cast member of Bravo’s Work Out New York), Eugene Remm (Co-Founder of Catch Hospitality Group (Catch Restaurants, CATCH STEAK, Lexington Brass), Andy Stenzler (Co-Founder Cosí, Kidville), and Anthony DiMarco (13-time IRONMAN, former Managing Director, Google).
Who would have thought that we would have to get through a pandemic in order to appreciate the small things we have, such as the ability to simply pack our bags and hit the road?
For two years, there’s been nothing left for us travel junkies to do but sit at home and try to find new destinations that we will conquer once we defeat what appears to be the biggest villain of the 21st century. But once that happens, hold your bags tight because we will be up for some of the most interesting travel experiences. Take a look at some ideas for your post-COVID traveling plans:
A Gay Cruise
One of the best options to have in mind when all of this passes is a good, nice and long (pun intended) gay cruise. Or cruise in general, for that matter. Bear in mind, social distancing will still be a thing in the post-COVID world. But COVID-19 likely doesn’t mean that cruises will cease to exist. On the contrary, though cruise ships will probably keep the number of passengers smaller than before, it is believed that they will become an even bigger hit in the following period, especially because they are all going to go a lot more environmentally-friendly. On the bright side, is there any better way of celebrating the end of the pandemic than by cruising around some magnificent seas, stopping by at great cities and having romantic dinner nights at nice restaurants?
A getaway in nature
On the other hand, there is always the option of stepping away from the hustle and bustle of large cities, and spending some time in a place that’s not only healthy, but also beautiful. Some of the destinations that plenty of people will look for are the ones that can cater for both peace of mind and amazing things to see or do. One such destination is New Zealand, one of the greenest countries on Earth right now. Not only will you be visiting the magnificent country that gave us the beautiful Shire from Lord of the Rings; this is also a destination that’s excellent for everyone who prefers relaxing to partying. If you’re up for some partying, you will be able to hit Auckland, while if you’re for something calmer, there’s plenty of amazing places that you can see and visit.
Dancing Around at Pride
Pride parades are also events that you want to have in mind for the post-COVID world. Such events have always been quite important, but it seems that they are now more important than ever. The virus has canceled more than 75 Pride parades all around the world, which is one of the reasons why we must support the ones that will see the light of day once the pandemic stops. Truth be told, the upcoming Prides will perhaps be the best Prides ever organized. Give the gays a couple of weeks of quarantine, then let them outside and see what kind of party they are able to throw!
A road trip
If you’re, as well, waiting for the day to wake up and say “long gone are the days when we were not allowed to go wherever we wanted?”, and if staying at one place gave you a lot to think about, then your first post-COVID travel experience should definitely be a nice road trip. You can practically choose which country you want to tour, and you can either take your own car (you have probably missed it so much), or rent one at your destination. Australia is an amazing country for this, though, as it offers the possibility of seeing the Great Ocean Road, which is an amazing thing to see and experience. On the other hand, if you do not want or cannot leave your country, you can also choose to go on a domestic road trip – there are amazing things to see in your vicinity as well.
Holiday for a single guy
If you’re single, or you’re traveling someplace with another single friend, then you should definitely organize a nice vacation for yourself or for you and your single friend, and hit one of the best European cities. Europe has been greatly affected by the virus, which means that now it’s time to pay it back and get it back on its feet by traveling there and seeing all the amazing things it offers. Any city you choose in Europe – you will not make a mistake. Apart from being able to see great landmarks, you will also have the chance to have a drink at great gay clubs and pubs, and join unforgettable gay parties. And if the gay scenery is not your forte, worry not, as Europe indeed has to offer so many different and magnificent things.