Named Bon Appetit's Chef of the Year 2005, San Francisco magazine's Chef of the Year 2005, as well as Restaurateur of the Year 2005 by the International Food and Beverage Forum, acclaimed chef Michael Mina continues to dazzle the culinary world with bold dining concepts. His work has contributed to San Francisco's reputation as a world-class epicurean destination and been integral to the development of Las Vegas as an esteemed culinary center. His newest project, AMERICAN FISH, is located at ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas' unprecedented urban resort destination, CityCenter. AMERICAN FISH explores specialty cooking techniques from across the country as it celebrates the bounty of America's great lakes, rivers and oceans.
"I have been very fortunate to earn a living through my true passion," says Mina. "Over a decade in the kitchen has taught me so much about myself, my style and how to share this excitement with my guests. Each new project shows me that there is absolutely nothing I would rather do."
Born in Cairo, Egypt and raised in Ellensburg, Washington, Mina has been creating memorable dining experiences for guests since a very early age. His formal epicurean journey began in 1987 at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. On weekends, he sharpened his natural talents with hands-on experience in the kitchen of Charlie Palmer's upscale Aureole in New York City.
At the start of his professional career, Mina was presented with the opportunity of a lifetime with George Morrone, then executive chef of the Bel Air Hotel in Los Angeles, to develop a concept and menu for an upscale seafood restaurant in one of Mina's favorite cities, San Francisco. Welcomed to his new home by a major earthquake on the second day, the unfazed Mina went to work under the direction of Chef Morrone and helped to create a complete dining experience as the chef de cuisine, including training the entire kitchen staff personally. Aqua opened to rave reviews and national acclaim in 1991. Mina served as Aqua's executive chef from 1993 to 2002, for which he was awarded Rising Star Chef of the Year in 1997 and, in 2002, Best Chef California by the James Beard Foundation.
Mina's culinary and business vision led to the founding of his own company, Mina Group, with partner Andre Agassi, in 2002. With the opening of his eponymous restaurant in San Francisco's legendary Westin St. Francis Hotel in 2004 – Michelin-stared and San Francisco Chronicle four-star winner MICHAEL MINA – he embarked on the newest phase and ultimate expression of his talents.
Under the auspices of Mina Group, Mina has opened 16 dining concepts to date. On the west coast these include MICHAEL MINA, CLOCK BAR and RN74 in San Francisco; ARCADIA in San Jose; XIV (14) in Los Angeles; and STONEHILL TAVERN in Dana Point. In Las Vegas Mina has conceived SEABLUE at MGM Grand and STRIPSTEAK at Mandalay Bay, and remains managing chef of the Mobil-four-star, Michelin-one-star MICHAEL MINA Bellagio (opened by Mina as AQUA Bellagio) and NOBHILL TAVERN (formerly NOBHILL) at MGM Grand. A sixth Southwest property is located in Arizona, BOURBON STEAK Scottsdale, and in the Midwest Mina operates BOURBON STEAK and SALTWATER, both in Detroit. On the east coast, Mina has opened five restaurants, including SEABLUE in Atlantic City; BOURBON STEAK Miami; and BOURBON STEAK Washington D.C. AMERICAN FISH will mark his 17th project with Mina Group.
Mina has been involved in numerous other creative enterprises along the way: the San Francisco Chronicle three-and-a-half star CHARLES NOB HILL, which he conceptualized, built and opened; Pisces in Burlingame, CA, a San Francisco Chronicle three-star restaurant; and AQUA at the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort & Spa in Dana Point.
Despite a demanding schedule, being in the kitchen simply remains a labor of love for the celebrated chef. "I started in the kitchen when I was very young," explains Mina, "and I am still as intrigued with the process as I was when I was a 15-year-old garde manger in a small French restaurant in my hometown."
Mina has been honored with numerous accolades in addition to those awarded MICHAEL MINA in San Francisco. MICHAEL MINA Bellagio holds a Michelin one-star award, and Mina himself was inducted into the American Gaming Association's Hall of Fame in 2007. He has been featured in such national media as Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Gourmet, Food Arts, Cigar Aficionado, Newsweek, TIME, Robb Report, Travel & Leisure, Wine Spectator, and others. Television appearances include the Food Network's "After Midnight," Fine Living Network's "Opening Soon," Bravo's "Top Chef," Pat O'Brien's "The Insider," CBS' "The Early Show," NBC's "The Today Show" and Fox's syndicated "Good Day Live." He has been a featured guest chef at the James Beard House numerous times, cooked for First Lady Laura Bush, and been a guest speaker at C.I.A. and other culinary institutes.
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