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Michael Mina  

James Beard Award-Winning Chef and Restaurateur

Named Bon Appetit 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 continues to dazzle the culinary world with bold dining concepts throughout the country.  Not only has he contributed to San Francisco’s reputation as a world-class epicurean destination, Mina has also been an integral part of the making of the now-esteemed Las Vegas dining scene.

“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.”

The opening of his eponymous restaurant, 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 the legendary Westin St. Francis on Union Square in San Francisco, the city where Mina first established his culinary reputation 12 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 Aureole in New York City. 

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.”

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 on 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.

At 37, Mina is an accomplished chef who has been involved in numerous creative enterprises.  He conceptualized, built and opened CHARLES NOB HILL in San Francisco, earning it three-and-a-half stars, the three-star Pisces in Burlingame, and AQUA BELLAGIO in Las Vegas (now MICHAEL MINA Bellagio), a Mobile four-star winner.  In 2001, Mina opened NOBHILL at MGM Grand in Las Vegas and AQUA at the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort and Spa in Dana Point, CA. 

In 2002, Mina’s culinary and business vision led to the founding of his own company, Mina Group, with partner Andre Agassi.  Under the auspices of Mina Group, he has opened two concept restaurants: ARCADIA in San Jose, and SEABLUE at MGM Grand in Las Vegas.   He remains Managing Chef of MICHAEL MINA Bellagio and NOBHILL at MGM Grand, both in Las Vegas, and plans are underway for a new restaurant to open at the St. Regis Monarch Beach in February 2006, as well as a seafood restaurant at the Borgata in Atlantic City in 2006.

Mina 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, as well as the Food Network's "After Midnight," Fine Living Network’s “Opening Soon,” Pat O’Brien’s “The Insider” 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 has been a guest speaker at C.I.A. in Hyde Park and at other culinary institutes in California.

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