Michael Mina, MICHAEL MINA, San Francisco, USA
Born in Cairo, Egypt and raised in Ellensburg, Washington, Michael Mina has had a long love affair with the kitchen, creating memorable dining experiences for guests from a very early age. Michael’s epicurean journey began in 1987 at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park.
At the start of his career, Michael was presented with the opportunity of a lifetime with the Executive Chef of the Bel Air Hotel in Los Angeles, George Morrone. The two were asked to develop a concept and create a menu for an upscale seafood restaurant in San Francisco – the city Michael had dreamed of calling home one day.
Michael’s culinary and business vision led to the founding of his company, Mina Group, with partner Andre Agassi in 2002. Under the auspices of Mina Group, he has opened 18 concept restaurants and a lounge concept including MICHAEL MINA, CLOCK BAR, RN74, BOURBON STEAK, ARCADIA, STONEHILL TAVERN, SEABLUE, NOBHILL TAVERN, STRIPSTEAK, and AMERICAN FISH.
Michael has been honoured with numerous accolades, including the Michelin two-star award and San Francisco Chronicle’s four-star award for the original MICHAEL MINA at San Francisco’s Westin St. Francis on Union Square, Michelin’s one-star award for MICHAEL MINA in Las Vegas, and induction into the American Gaming Association’s Hall of Fame in 2007. Additionally, he is an esteemed member of Bocuse d’Or USA and the CIA Society of Fellows. He has been a featured guest chef at the James Beard House numerous times; cooked for three U.S. presidents: Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama; and has been a guest speaker at C.I.A. in Hyde Park and at other culinary institutes in California.
We caught up with Michael Mina to find out what he’s looking forward to at this year’s Festival.
What are you most excited about with regards to participating in this year’s World Gourmet Festival?
I’m most excited about the ability to travel, to expose my team to new flavours, and to expose the guests at the Festival to my food.
What is the one dish you’ll be preparing that visitors to the festival shouldn’t miss?
Our Tuna Tartare is world famous but hasn’t been done often outside of the US before. It combines all of my favourite flavour experiences – sweet, spice, acid, salt and richness in one bite! (our president Patric will personally be preparing each one tableside throughout the month of September all over Asia).
Describe your cooking philosophy
My cooking philosophy is marrying different components to create something which is more than the sum of its parts. Combining, richness, acidity, spice, salt is something almost every dish in Thailand does magically and the people understand these flavors.
Are there any key ingredients you’ll be bringing with you from home?
I prefer to surrender to the ingredients and let them speak to me whenever I am visiting another country. I find I learn so much more and have a more authentic experience when I choose to cook with local products and learn about them.
What do you never travel without?
I love technology and therefore never travel without my iPad – it’s gotten me out of some tough situations!