Star Chef Michael Mina Headed to Town

image courtesy of Bourbon Steak

image courtesy of Bourbon Steak

Michael Mina, the hotter-than-hot, award-winning chef behind 16 restaurants across the country, including Bourbon Steak at the Fairmont Scottsdale resort, is coming to Scottsdale.

The question is, will he scout for other Phoenix chefs to poach while he’s here? (I swear there is a pun there…see if you can figure it out…read on…)

You may have read, Chef Matthew Taylor of Metro Brasserie is leaving to take the top toque position at Michael Mina the restaurant, at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

If you’re attending one of the events Mina is scheduled to attend while in town, you’ll have the opportunity to ask him in person if he has his eye on any other talented valley chef.

Meet Mina at Crave Arizona

The first chance to meet Mina in person is during Crave Arizona.

Bourbon Steak is one of four restaurants hosting three-course wine lunches on Friday, October 23 (tickets are $50). The other three are Atlas Bistro, Avalon and Cafe Forte.

It seems like a good deal on the surface. Arizona Restaurant week featured 3 courses for $29 (wine excluded). Three courses with wine at each course for $50 is reasonable, if not a total bargain — especially at Bourbon Steak, which is upping the ante with four courses, all paired with wine.

Bourbon Steak’s menu:

Bacon vinaigrette dressed baby lettuces
with roasted Bosc pear, blue cheese and pomegranate

Spicy, lychee-drizzled tapioca-crusted Thai snapper
with forbidden rice and fried Japanese eggplant

A trio of beef  (all butter-poached of course — Mina’s specialty)
with horseradish mashed potatoes, soy-glazed shiitakes
and jalapeno creamed corn

Warm chocolate pudding cake
with malted milk chocolate ganache and a mini malted milkshake.

Palmina winery from Lompoc, California, just northwest of Santa Barbara, will be pouring their specialty: Italian varietal wines. Not generally available outside of restaurants and high-end wine stores, Palmina wines retail for $20++ per bottle for whites and $40++ for reds — before the restaurant markup.

Meet Mina at Food and Wine for the Soul

The second opportunity to rub elbows with Mina is on Saturday, October 24. The Fairmont Scottsdale is hosting a series of vacation packages over the next few months called “Season of Personal Discovery.” Each themed weekend event will feature renowned authors and the one taking place on the 24th, is called “Food and Wine for the Soul.”

Six food and wine authors will be featured at a “meet the authors” luncheon, as well as a cocktail reception/dinner later that evening. The luncheon is more than just a luncheon — it’s a day-long event featuring cooking demo sessions with the authors plus the lunch.

Even though the event is geared toward traveling foodies, local Arizona residents can purchase tickets ($65 for the day-long event and $95 for the evening event) to mingle with the nationally acclaimed culinary celebrities (not to mention all those highfalutin traveling foodies.)

Besides Mina, Karen MacNeil, author of The Wine Bible and Robin Goldstein, author of The Wine Trials and editor-in-chief of The Fearless Critic series will be there. ( I recently gave my brother one of the Fearless Critic books for his town — a dining guide written by non-professional food critics, destined to put me out of work, but nonetheless, a great concept.)

Michelle Bernstein, a James Beard Best Chef of the South, owner of Miami’s Michy’s and author of Cuisine A Latina will also be on hand. So will Paula Deen’s sons, Jamie and Bobby. They now have two cookbooks (Y’all Come Eat and The Deen Bros. Take it Easy). And who doesn’t appreciate how much they love their mama?

For the $65 price, you get a 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. experience. (It conflicts however, with Crave Arizona’s Grand Tasting scheduled from noon to 5 p.m. Technically you could hit the Fairmont event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and then head to the last couple of hours of the Crave event, but you’d miss the wine experts scheduled at the end of the Fairmont event.)

Here is the schedule for the $65 Food and Wine for the Soul Saturday event:

  • 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. : Opening session and Michelle Bernstein (cooking demo)
  • 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.: Jamie and Bobby Deen (cooking demo)
  • 12:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.: Meet the Authors Luncheon (hosted by Mina)
  • 2:15 p.m. to 4:oo p.m.: Karen MacNeil and Robin Goldstein (I’m guessing there will be wine with these two wine experts)

The menu for the author’s luncheon on Saturday is almost identical to the Crave Arizona Friday wine lunch, with a few twists. So there isn’t a big incentive to attend both the Friday Crave AZ wine luncheon and the Saturday Fairmont Food and Wine for the Soul event. Unless you just can’t get enough of Mina’s butter-poached beef, which is totally understandable.

If you have the energy (and cash to match), you could attend the Friday Crave AZ wine lunch, attend the Saturday Fairmont lunch, then zip down to the Crave AZ Grand Tasting at the Waterfront, and finally return to the Fairmont for the evening cocktail reception and dinner. And while you’re at it, you might as well shell out a few bucks more for a room. You’ll be too exhausted to drive home.

Plus, you might be able to corner Mina after the dinner and find out if he plans on snagging any more local chefs for his burgeoning empire.

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