by Andrea Doyle | September 19, 2017


 

CHEF MICHAEL MINA

 Chef Michael Mina's experience has spanned the culinary spectrum, from starting his first job at the age of 15 as a chef garde manger in a French restaurant to becoming opening chef of the upscale seafood restaurant, Aqua in San Francisco. In 2002, he founded the Mina Group with partner Andre Agassi and has opened more than 30 concept restaurants, a lounge, and a market including MICHAEL MINA, Clock Bar, RN74, Bourbon Steak, Arcadia, A Stonehill Tavern, STRIPSTEAK, Wit & Wisdom Tavern, Pub 1842, and more. The newest of his ventures and second Hawaii eatery, The Street, A Michael Mina Social House in Honolulu, is a curation of 13 communal food stalls including Little Lafa, a restaurant concept derived from his childhood upbringing and mother's kitchen.

 What is the most elaborate food and beverage function you ever planned for a group?

 Over the years, there have been many over-the-top and elaborate events. One that stands out in my head is an event we did for George Lucas' 70th birthday at Skywalker Ranch. It was surreal to be there with all of the amazing, talented people who have made a huge impact in the arts.
  
 What high-end trends are you seeing now?

 We see a lot of "movable feasts" -- they're taking over the traditional buffet. It's got incredible impact when there's a high-caliber chef working an action station right in front of you, for example Chef Ken Tominaga from our Pabu restaurant doing hand rolls. Guests love the direct interaction they get with him, and the personalized attention makes the event stand out. Other popular stations include pasta with truffles shaved directly onto guests' plates.
  
 What strategies are there for groups without big budgets?

 No matter the budget, we always work with our guests to make their events special. It became more popular to find creative ways to open up the kitchens so that they provide not only food to the guests, but entertainment as well.

What are the most popular ingredients that foodies are excited about right now?
 As a chef, I'm always excited about what's in season and fresh. We're in the throes of stone-fruit season, so that's what's exciting to me right now. Thinking about what's hyper-seasonal and how to incorporate it into everything we do.