Michael Mina On Local Product and Miami's "Crazy" Seasons

Michael Mina is the only chef to have a restaurant in both Miami (Bourbon Steak in Aventura) and Seattle (RN74), a fact relevant to last week's Seattle-Miami comparison. The celebrated toque will be in town at the end of this month, in order to help kick off Bourbon Steak's Miami Spice 2012 menu. We wondered how he approached the feeding of Miami's clientele in relation to the folks out west.

New Times: What are the main things you change from restaurant to restaurant when operating in diverse markets such as Seattle and Miami?
Michael Mina: There's numerous things you have to take into account, but it all starts first and foremost with product. Product is so different everywhere you go, and it's all about what's grown there and what's in season.

Big difference right there between the two.
Miami's seasons are crazy. They're completely different from everybody else's. You're running dishes on your menus...I mean I call my chef up and say, "Are you sure this is in season?" (Laughs).

What about the difference between, say, San Francisco (Bourbon Steak, Clock Bar, Michael Mina) and Seattle?
Seattle feels like it's similar to California, but it's really not. Everything is a couple of months later in Seattle. Like asparagus is later in the summer. Fava beans are later in the summer. Things that are spring are actually more summertime in Seattle. So that is definitely something that you're constantly paying attention to.

How do the dining scenes differ in Seattle and Miami?
Seattle is more of a neighborhood-hub restaurant community -- more neighborhood restaurants, more small restaurants that are a little more intimate. RN74 is a large space, but I broke it up into a lot of small, intimate spaces. Whereas in Miami, it's big, open restaurants.

Which city gets the edge in seafood?
Seattle gets phenomenal seafood. The shellfish there is unmatched. Everywhere you go, you're going to be eating great oysters, great mussels...and then you get your snappers and other fish in Miami that you can't get in Seattle.

Taste of the Nation Miami's 25-year anniversary party takes place this year at Turnberry Isle Miami. The date is Thursday, July 19. General admission is $125, the VIP treatment is $250 -- all for a good cause: Share Our Strength. Bourbon Steak, the home court restaurant, heads a list of participating dining establishments that is truly impressive -- though too long to list here. You can read it here instead.

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