Born in Cairo, Egypt and raised in Ellensburg, Washington, Chef Michael Mina began his epicurean journey at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. During his formal schooling, he spent his weekends sharpening his skills with hands-on experience by working in Chef Charlie Palmer’s kitchen at the upscale Aureole in New York City. Early in his career, Chef Mina was presented with a rare and unique opportunity with Chef George Morrone when the duo were asked to develop a concept and create a menu for an upscale seafood restaurant in San Francisco – the city Chef Mina had always dreamed of calling home.
Unfazed by the major earthquake that rocked the Bay Area on his second day in the city, Chef Mina went immediately to work under Chef Morrone’s direction. In his role as chef de cuisine, he dedicated himself to perfecting the complete dining experience by personally training the entire kitchen staff and refining the menu. In 1991, Chefs Mina and Morrone opened AQUA to rave reviews and national acclaim. Chef Mina served as AQUA’s executive chef from 1993 to 2002, during which time he was awarded Rising Star Chef of the Year (1997) and Best Chef: California (2002) by the James Beard Foundation Awards.
Chef Mina’s culinary and business vision ultimately led to the founding of MINA Group, which now owns and operates more than 30 restaurants around the world.
Throughout his illustrious career, he has been honored with numerous accolades including a Michelin star at MICHAEL MINA (2012-2018), James Beard Foundation’s “Who’s Who of Food & Beverage” inductee (2013), Gayot’s Restaurateur of the Year (2011), Bon Appétit’s Chef of the Year (2005), and more.
Chef Mina and his collection of restaurants have been featured across national media outlets such as Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Food Network, The Today Show, TIME, Robb Report, Travel + Leisure, and Wine Spectator. He has been a featured guest chef at the James Beard House on numerous occasions, has served as a judge on Hell’s Kitchen and Master Chef, and has cooked for three U.S. presidents: Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.