World Chefs: For Mina great food is a balancing act

Tue Oct 11, 2011 3:44pm EDT
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By Patricia Reaney

ATLANTIC CITY (Reuters) - With 18 restaurants dotted around the United States and three more due to open soon award-winning chef Michael Mina says preparing memorable meals is all about balance.

The Egyptian-born chef and cookbook author, who is based in San Francisco, started his career as a teenager cooking in a local restaurant in Washington state and later studied at the Culinary Institute of American in Hyde Park, New York.

Since establishing his reputation with Aqua in San Francisco, Mina has served his innovative dishes to customers across the United States.

Executive chef Wesley Holton has joined his Seablue restaurant at the Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, and Mina will debut a cafe and two restaurants at The Four Season Hotel Baltimore in November.

Mina spoke to Reuters about his approach to cooking, his business partnership with tennis great Andre Agassi and cooking for three U.S. presidents.

Q: What is your secret to creating great food?

A: "There are four components -- acidity, sweetness, spice and the fat content -- the richness. Those are the four things you have to constantly balance. They have to be in balance. Salt and pepper have to be there but the reality is those are the four ingredients you have to keep in balance.

"So when you add spice to something, you have to balance it with some sweetness and some acid, but you have to balance it. So when I am tasting food that is what I am thinking of. Not every dish has to have all four. But when you have all four, it is a complex dish ...   Continued...

<p>Award-winning chef Michael Mina prepares a dish at the Bourbon Steak restaurant in Washington, in this undated handout. REUTERS/Mina Group/Handout</p>