Chef Michael Mina wants you to taste your food.
No, really, he does. So much so that he created Cook Taste Eat, a new site dedicated to teaching you how to cook and taste 365 days a year. And it’s free.
For Mina, the taste part of the equation is the key. Tasting food leads to better cooking — pure and simple.
I caught up with Mina this week when he was in Scottsdale to christen a new patio at Bourbon Steak at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess.
He’d just wrapped up a 10-week stretch of filming and was taking a break to check in on his Arizona restaurant before heading to New Orleans for the Super Bowl with his son (our condolences on his beloved 49′ers’ loss.)
I wanted to know more about Cook Taste Eat. Why he started it, how he does it while operating 17 restaurants nationwide, and what plans he has for the program now that he has a few months under his belt.
Better Than a Cookbook
Mina already has one coffee table tome, Michael Mina The Cookbook, and was at work on a second book when he decided to change course.
He’s been approached several times to do television shows, some he says he might have been right for, others not so much. He knew he wanted his first show to be a teaching show, not just a cooking show — a place where he could demonstrate his philosophies of cooking.
“During this day and age, I’d rather have the cookbook on video,” he says. “I think it’s more fun and you can reach so many more people.”
He started working on the development of Cook Taste Eat in 2011, but didn’t start filming until the late summer of 2012. The first episodes began airing last October.
Cook Taste Eat is a 365 day-a-year video series. Each week the site features a series of two- to four- minute videos comprising a whole meal, dish-by-dish. Recording artist Michelle Branch is Mina’s co-host. He describes her as a great friend and the ultimate food lover.
One week’s video series featured coconut curry lobster pie.
Sign up for the Cook Taste Eat email, and you’ll get a reminder every day to go to the site to watch Michael and Michelle deliver a short, playful approach to cooking serious Mina-style dishes.
“The whole idea is to get people cooking and tasting. I am giving them a complete dish in bite-size pieces,” he says.
While it may seem smooth and easy from the outside, Mina and his team of 7 full-time staffers and 9 to 12 part-time production team members spend weeks to get a few minutes of video.
They film 10 weeks of programs in a week’s time, and before that, Mina and a small crew have practiced the dishes for two weeks to make sure when the cameras do roll, everything goes according to plan.
During the 10 weeks of programs, three or four weeks will feature guest chefs, such as Charles Phan from The Slanted Door. Upcoming episodes will feature celebrity chef Tyler Florence and Traci des Jardins.
My favorite guest so far is Ken Tominaga from Hana Japanese in Northern California who demonstrates how to make sushi and sashimi. If you love sushi, I encourage you to watch all six videos with Chef Tominaga.
To complement the video vignettes, the site features a cooking timeline for each meal and links to all the recipes.
There’s even a tab to click on for what to drink with the dishes.
For now, Mina’s plan is to continue filming for the next few years, building a solid library of videos and building the site into an interactive community of people who want to learn how to cook like a pro.
Who knows, he may even write that second cookbook at some point, pulling the most popular dishes from Cook Taste Eat.
Want to follow along? Visit the Cook Taste Eat website and sign up for the email.