What does the West Coast’s most famous chef/restaurateur do when his state goes into lockdown?
He takes the key ingredients he has on hand (people who still crave Michelin-quality meals, employees who want to keep working, a large space to consolidate operations) and whips up something totally fresh and new.
This summer Mina Family Kitchen, a new high-end delivery concept from renowned San Francisco Chef Michael Mina, became the answer to Bay Area foodies’ prayers while many restaurants remained closed and diners were eating at home. We spoke to Chef Mina about his newest venture.
How did you get the idea for Mina Family Kitchen?
MM: It was something we’ve been dabbling in for a while, asking ourselves how to best approach the high-end delivery space. But when the pandemic hit, we kicked it into high gear. When you’re making this caliber of food–with a very dynamic, best-in-class menu–you need to do delivery right, which is what our customers expect and deserve. Until now, no one had really taken “to-go” seriously at this high of a level.
How hard was it to do?
MM: We have amazing chef partners in the Mina family, including Gerald Chin, Ayesha Curry, Adam Sobel, Ken Tominaga, David Varley and Michael Voltaggio. Our vision was to create “comfort meals from our homes delivered to you”, which include many customer favorites from Pabu, International Smoke and Michael Mina.
This also gave you a chance to help your employees.
MM: Absolutely. When we started gearing up Mina Family Kitchen, we fed our employees because we launched it while employees were furloughed. Now we’re able to keep many of them working here at the Kitchen. And we’re feeding them now, too and offering discounts to restaurant industry workers.
Isn’t it a challenge to make Michelin-quality meals for delivery?
MM: Our goal is always to create an unbelievable food experience. We started by identifying the favorite meals that were also the most delivery-worthy when you factor in that they’d be delivered in sealed boxes for safety. We took the dishes that would work best, that we know our customers love, and we actually engineered them to stay hotter, maintain their texture and other considerations when food has to travel.
So what’s everybody ordering?
MM: The sashimi and sushi…anything Japanese. It’s craveable, people are obsessed with it, and it’s not the kind of thing most people can make at home. Our customers also love the Chef’s Feast boxes, unique dining experiences curated by our partner chefs. Our plant-based dishes sell well too. And of course, everyone wants his or her familiar favorites.
What’s the plan moving forward? If things ever get back to normal, will you still keep Mina Family Kitchen open?
MM: Yes, the response has been incredible–delivery has become a much bigger percentage of sales for us. We’re now looking for a permanent space for Mina Family Kitchen. It’s here to stay.
Visit MichaelMina.net to view the menus, see the Bay Area delivery range (plus options in other select cities) and place an order.