We caught up with chef Michael Mina about his new brunch services at Bourbon Steak and StripSteak, what he thinks makes the perfect turkey, and where he likes to eat in the Magic City (when he's not eating at his own restaurants).
Chef Michael Mina.
With close to 20 restaurants under his empire, Michael Mina is more than just a celebrity chef—he’s a culinary magnate—and with reason. The Egyptian native and James Beard award-winning chef went from having one of country's best seafood restaurants to conquering the steakhouse realm with the help of his butter-poached steaks and duck fat French fries served as an amuse-bouche.
Now with StripSteak by Michael Mina and Michael Mina 74 in Fontainebleau Miami Beach (a spin off his first steakhouse in Las Vegas) and Bourbon Steak at Turnsberry Isle announcing their inaugural brunch services on Sundays, we chatted with the chef about how his signature butter-poached steak came to be, what he thinks is the ideal brunch setup, and how he suggests you prepare your turkeys for Thanksgiving this year.
Butter-poached steak is a bizarre yet wonderful idea—and now, it's a signature dish at your restaurants. What were you thinking when you created it?
MICHAEL MINA: That one started before we opened StripSteak, and I was serving American kobe beef at Michael Mina. I didn't want to serve filet, I wanted to serve rib eye for more flavor; people had this perception of kobe beef and that you could cut it with a fork, so we'd get complaints about it needing to be more tender. I started playing around with different techniques on how to cook it and we kind of reverse engineered it and said, "What's the point if you can cook it, and it doesn't release any of its juices?" We started utilizing the butter baths and cooking it at about 130 degrees, getting it just about to rare and then searing or grilling it. The butter doesn't saturate the meat—it actually just seals and flavors it. You'd never know it was poached in [butter] if I never told you.
Talk to us about your brunch at Bourbon Steak.
MM: The idea is to stay within that spirit of brunch, where you walk in, and we have a great selection of items that you can walk up and get yourself. But then it's a two-course meal: you order the first and second [courses], and you get the joy of getting something right away.
What's your idea of a perfect brunch?
MM: It's about the experience. You want a luxurious room with a lot of natural light. Brunch is what they say it is—a cross between breakfast and lunch—so whatever you're in the mood for, whether it's breakfast, lunch, or both, that's what the menu has to achieve.
We're curious. What goes through your head when someone orders a steak cooked well-done at your restaurant?
MM: You can do worse, I've seen people do worse. It's one of those things when a lot of people have grown up eating all their meats cooked for various reasons because of maybe where they came from, or it was safer that the meat was cooked all the way, or just a cultural thing. It's preferences and you have to respect that as a chef. I'm not one that likes to say no to people.
Thanksgiving is coming up. How do you and your family celebrate?
MM: We celebrate very traditionally. My wife would kill me if I don't have whipped potatoes and gravy, and stuffing—all the traditions have to be there.
Do you have any tips for holiday entertaining?
MM: In this day and age, the products are so good that if you take time to buy great products, you can eliminate a lot of the stress of overcomplicating the food. During the holidays, that's one of the things you want to do, [like buying] good Brussels sprouts and simply roasting them.
What's the one suggestion you'd give for preparing Thanksgiving turkeys?
MM: It's all about resting it properly. The biggest mistake people make is that they are afraid it's not going to stay hot; they forget that turkey stays hot for a long time, especially on the bone, so they'll cut it too early and a lot of juice will come out of it. You really have to let it rest: take it out of the oven, cover it loosely with foil, and let it rest for 30 minutes.
When you're in Miami, where do you like to eat (besides your restaurants)?
MM: I go to The Bazaar by José Andrés a lot, I love José's food. I eat at Michael's Genuine Food & Drink. I haven't been to too many of the new places. Every time I'm here, I'm usually [at Fontainebleau Miami Beach], so I eat at Hakkasan a lot.