An Order of Wanderlust

Maya Silver |
Culinary Personalities

The adage, “not all who wander are lost,” couldn’t be truer of Chef Michael Mina. A native of Egypt, owner of successful restaurants from coast-to-coast, and frequent flier to places afar, the prolific and talented Chef Mina clearly has his culinary bearings. Now you can travel with him vicariously at MICHAEL MINA 74 at Fontainebleau Miami Beach, where each menu item is inspired by a journey past.

 

Congratulations on the new restaurant! With so many unique concepts in many different locations, what does MICHAEL MINA 74 share with your other restaurants, and what sets it apart?

MICHAEL MINA 74 is built on the same foundation as all our restaurants—great people serving great food and drink. What makes it different is that it blends a bar and ultra-lounge with a restaurant of global flavors—every dish is inspired by my travels. To complement the menu, we created a strong cocktail program including fizzy-lifting drinks and quality, hand-crafted cocktails that are available on tap, ready in a fraction of the time. It's a science we have worked hard to perfect. 

 

Tell us about The Bleaufish, Fontainebleau's private boat. Do you catch all the fish for the menu on the boat?

We do get some of our seafood from the Bleaufish, which goes out daily and brings back fresh product. It allows us to be innovative in the kitchen since we’re not sure what will come in that day. Our location in Miami offers us amazing access to the finest local seafood delicacies, including spiny lobsters, which we use in our Florida Lobster Pasta, as well as the Florida stone crab claws on our Shellfish Cart. 

 

What kind of beer would you pair with your signature Truffle Donuts with Foie Gras "Frosting"?

I would recommend a sour such as Rodenbach’s Classic Flanders Red Ale—its acidity helps cut the richness of the dish, and it has a slight earthiness from being aged on its lees. These flavors pair well with the earthiness of the truffles.

  

Does your Egyptian heritage inspire your menu in any way?

I pull inspiration from all facets of life, including my heritage and family. There are definitely Middle Eastern influences on my menus—like the Dip & Chip with roasted eggplant and avocado dip, toasted pita, and fresh vegetables. We also have Lamb Meatballs with ricotta dumplings, date chutney, and Meyer lemon. One of my greatest childhood food memories is my mother’s falafel, which lends a comfort and warmth to my meals that I wanted to share with guests. At BOURBON STEAK Miami, I incorporated this into the Michael’s Mother’s Falafel Burger, served on a toasted brioche bun with tahini sauce, warmed heirloom tomato, and grilled scallion with cucumber and tomato relish, duck fat french fries, and tahini dipping sauce.

 

As a frequent traveler, does each new trip inspire you to tweak your menus with the new flavors and techniques you discover? Do you have any big trips planned soon?

My greatest inspiration comes from my travels, both close to home and far away. With MICHAEL MINA 74, I had the opportunity to incorporate pronounced, bold flavors I experienced around the world. My next big trip planned is back to Japan. I’ve always had a love for Japanese cuisine, both the ingredients and techniques, which I’ve showcased from MICHAEL MINA to PABU, a modern izakaya and sushi bar run in partnership with Chef Ken Tominaga of the famed Hana Japanese Restaurant in Sonoma County. 

 

The dinner rush finally comes to a close at MICHAEL MINA 74. What's your go-to order after a long day?

I love our Dry-Aged Steak Burger. It’s perfectly balanced, with pepper Jack and American cheeses, applewood-smoked bacon, a secret sauce, and housemade pickles.