Chef and Restaurant owner, Michael Mina, tells Where Traveler about his life. Mina was born in Egypt and moved to the United States when he was 2 years old, growing up close to his mother’s seven brothers and sisters and always around food. Today, the chef and entrepreneur splits his time between California and Miami and has 21 restaurants under his belt. The newest addition is Stripsteak, which opened at the Fontainebleau this winter. An edgier, high energy version of the more relaxed Bourbon Steak in Aventura, Mina brings another great spot for food to the Magic City Miami is known to be.
Where are your roots in food?
Food was very much a part of our Egyptian culture as far as when meals happen, there’s just a lot of food on the table, you sit at the table for hours. The culture is very social with food and so I would say food has always been a very big part of our family. What I really picked up from my youth was more palate driven than actual cooking. My first restaurant job was when I was 15. By the time I was 17, I was very set on the fact that I wanted to be a chef and I started looking into culinary schools at that age.
You have four restaurants in Miami, what is it about this city?
I really like the clientele that you get in Miami because it’s very diverse. I like to cook with really bold-flavored food, foods that are well balanced, foods that do have acidic components, that do have spice to them, that do have richness and sweetness. It seems to work well in Miami.
Tell us about Stripsteak.
We feature a lot of Japanese beef at Stripsteak. It’s definitely edgier with higher energy in the room. One of the things that I’m focusing on is the side dishes as, really creating a great collection of side dishes that a lot of times now sides have gotten really, really big in restaurants and they’ve become pretty expensive. They’ve becomes more like mini entrees and they’re almost too much. I want to be very product driven.
How would you describe Miami’s food scene?
It’s in some ways a little bit like Las Vegas in the sense that you have a lot of chefs coming there, but in in other way it’s different because you have local chefs and you have a local spirit to the food.
You’re sure to attend the South Beach Wine and Food Festival every year, what’s the draw?
You can do everything from the Burger Bash to high-end experiences within restaurants or homes. It’s curated really well and I would say you get the very best chefs that come to it. People go there and they’re relaxed.
What are your favorite places to eat, Other than your own?
Michael Mina's Perfect Day
8 am: Take a Walk
I’ll start the day with an espresso and a walk along the beach by the Fontainebleau. There’s so much history there and the grounds are beautiful. You’re kind of looking back at the Fontainebleau and you’re looking at the beach, you’re looking at Miami, and you really know where you are. I’m big on that.
10 am: Jet Ski With the Kids
I’d head out with my 13- and 17-year-old sons for some jet skiing. When you’re in a very high-stress industry, to me, I found the quickest way to relax is the water. There’s something that’s so soothing about everything from the noise to what water does to your body, how it makes you feel. I love being out on boats, I love fishing, I love swimming.
12:30 pm: Lunch at Lucali
We’d head to Lucali for the best pizza and calzones. A lot of times there’s just a feeling to things that are just done right and done very well, but very simple.
3 pm: Back on the Water
After lunch, I’d charter a boat and go cruising around Miami’s great waterways with the whole family.
6 pm: Dinner at The Bazaar
Head back to the hotel, get cleaned up, then out to dinner at The Bazaar. I’m a big fan of José Andrés, he’s actually coming out to one of my Tailgates at Levi’s Stadium.
8:30 pm: Drinks at The Broken Shaker
After the boys settle in for the night, my wife, Diane, and I would end the day with drinks at The Broken Shaker. We’re always trying to do handcrafted cocktails in our restaurant, so I like to go and order multiple cocktails.