Chef Michael Mina of Michael Mina - Biography

San Francisco, CA

November 2011

Named Bon Appétit Chef of the Year 2005, San Francisco Magazine Chef of the Year 2005, as well as Restaurateur of the Year 2005 by the International Food and Beverage Forum, acclaimed chef Michael Mina creates bold dining concepts that have contributed to San Francisco’s reputation as a world-class epicurean destination. He has also been an integral part of the making of the now esteemed Las Vegas dining scene.

The opening of his eponymous signature restaurant, Michelin one-star and San Francisco Chronicle four-star winner Michael Mina, in July 2004, marked the newest phase and ultimate expression in the career of the James Beard Award-winning chef. The restaurant is located in Westin St. Francis on Union Square in San Francisco, the city where Mina first established his culinary reputation over 15 years ago.

Born in Cairo, Egypt and raised in Ellensburg, Washington, Mina has had a love affair with the kitchen, creating memorable dining experiences for guests from a very early age. Mina’s epicurean journey began in 1987 at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. During those 18 months of formal schooling, he spent his weekends sharpening his natural talents with hands-on experience in Charlie Palmer’s kitchen at the upscale Aureole in New York City.

At the start of his career, Mina was presented with an opportunity of a lifetime with then 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 Mina had dreamed of calling home one day.

Welcomed to San Francisco by a major earthquake his second day in the city, the unfazed Mina went to work, under the direction of George Morrone, and dedicated himself to creating a complete dining experience – training the entire kitchen staff personally and refining the menu as the chef de cuisine. Aqua opened to rave reviews and national acclaim in 1991. Mina served as Aqua’s executive chef from 1993 to 2002, where he was awarded Rising Star Chef of the Year in 1997 and Best California Chef in 2002 by the James Beard Foundation.

Mina’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 17 concept restaurants and a lounge concept: Michael Mina in San Francisco, Clock Bar in San Francisco, RN74 in San Francisco Arcadia in San Jose, XIV in Los Angeles, Stonehill Tavern in Dana Point, Sea Blue at MGM Grand in Las Vegas and Sea Blue in Atlantic City; Bourbon Steak and Saltwater in Detroit, Bourbon Steak Miami and Bourbon Steak Scottsdale, Bourbon Steak Washington D.C., American Fish at Aria, City Center in Las Vegas as well as StripSteak at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Mina also remains Managing Chef of Michael Mina Bellagio (formerly Aqua Bellagio) and Nobhill Tavern at MGM Grand, both in Las Vegas.

Mina has been honored with numerous accolades, including the Michelin one-star award and San Francisco Chronicle’s four star award for Michael Mina in San Francisco, Michelin’s one-star award for Michael Mina Bellagio in Las Vegas as well as induction into the American Gaming Association’s Hall of Fame in 2007. Mina has been featured in such national media as Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Gourmet, Food Arts, Cigar Aficionado, Newsweek, Time, Robb Report, Travel & Leisure, Wine Spectator, and others and the Food Network's "After Midnight," Fine Living Network’s “Opening Soon,” Pat O’Brien’s “The Insider,” the CBS Early Show, the NBC Today Show and Fox's syndicated "Good Day Live." He has been a featured guest chef at the James Beard House numerous times and has been a guest speaker at C.I.A. in Hyde Park and at other culinary institutes in California.