Isaac Brekken for Vegas Uncork'd by Bon Appétit
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 | 2 a.m.
If you think there’s a lot of pressure on superstar chefs to deliver amazing culinary experiences at their restaurants and at special events like the upcoming Vegas Uncork’d, imagine the expectations when celebrating their spouse’s birthdays. That’s what Michael Mina just did, and the San Francisco-based celebrity chef with four restaurants on the Las Vegas Strip is happy to report that all went well with his wife Diane’s special day. She even got to escape to wine country with her girlfriends after the party was over.
Mina found a family connection with the Uncork’d event he’s participating in this year, the exciting Picnic in the Park on April 29 set for MGM’s promenade between Monte Carlo and New York-New York. “I’m extremely excited about it because it’s something near and dear to my heart,” Mina says. “When my wife and I first started dating, we’d go on a lot of picnics and had some spots we’d go to all the time. There’s something warm about packing a picnic.”
This picnic will be a bit more grand as Mina teams with fellow MGM food stars Alain Ducasse, Charlie Palmer, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Julian Serrano, Shawn McClain, Roy Ellamar and Akira Back to create some interesting twists on an al fresco dining experience. Tickets are still available for the mega-picnic, and many other events that make up the four-day food festival at vegasuncorked.com.
Mina’s Vegas homes are his namesake restaurant at Bellagio, Stripsteak at Mandalay Bay, Pub 1842 at MGM Grand and his newest Strip entry, Bardot Brasserie at Aria. While the Egyptian-born chef got his start in the Bay Area and still calls San Francisco home, Las Vegas is really where he built his brand and formed the foundation for a restaurant empire that has spread around California and to Honolulu, Seattle, Wyoming, Phoenix, Boston, Washington, D.C., Florida, Dubai, and soon, Chicago.
“Las Vegas has been great. It’s just an amazing place,” he says. “In this day and age, people are very enamored with food and there are so many ways to educate yourself about different cuisines and countries. Customers are more educated now than ever, and the fact that Las Vegas changes constantly has made it one of the best places for people to do that. When Las Vegas decides to embrace something, like becoming a restaurant city, it becomes one really quickly.”
In addition to getting ready for Uncork’d, Mina’s current Vegas priorities are continuing to build Bardot into one of the Strip’s finest French restaurants and assisting his new executive chef at Michael Mina Bellagio, Nick Sharp — someone who’s been cooking with Mina since 2011. “He’s really talented, been with me on the corporate team for a long time opening restaurants, and I’ve always loved his food,” Mina says. “It’s always great when you get a new chef and new energy. That place will be the next one to get big emphasis.”