This shareable style of eating has also been increasingly
requested in the events that
we host. We love serving
large-format cuts of meats or
family-style dishes to groups,
accompanied by a large plate
of vegetables and various
What are some of the most
popular ingredients right
Earlier this year, we decided to adjust the menu format of my
flagship restaurant, Aureole, to reflect a lighter, more seasonally driven, more shareable, liberating menu. Since moving to
Sonoma County 15 years ago, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with local farmers and purveyors and focus on using whole,
real ingredients in my kitchens.
CHEF MICHAEL MINA
Chef Michael Mina’s experience has spanned the culinary spec- trum, from starting his first job at the age of 15 as a chef garde
manger in a French restaurant to becoming opening chef of the upscale seafood restaurant, Aqua in San Francisco. In 2002, he founded the Mina Group with partner Andre Agassi and has opened
more than 30 concept restaurants, a lounge, and a market including
MICHAEL MINA, Clock Bar, RN74, Bourbon Steak, Arcadia, A
Stonehill Tavern, STRIPSTEAK, Wit & Wisdom Tavern, Pub 1842,
and more. The newest of his ventures and second Hawaii eatery,
The Street, A Michael Mina Social House in Honolulu, is a curation
of 13 communal food stalls including Little Lafa, a restaurant concept derived from his childhood upbringing and mother’s kitchen.
What is the most elaborate food and beverage function you ever
planned for a group?
Over the years, there have been many over-the-top and elaborate
events. One that stands out in my head is an event we did for
George Lucas’ 70th birthday at Skywalker Ranch. It was surreal
to be there with all of the amazing, talented people who have
made a huge impact in the arts.
What high-end trends are you seeing now?
We see a lot of “movable feasts” — they’re taking over the traditional
What strategies are there for groups without big budgets?
buffet. It’s got incredible impact when there’s a high-caliber chef
working an action station right in front of you, for example Chef Ken
Tominaga from our Pabu restaurant doing hand rolls. Guests love the
direct interaction they get with him, and the personalized attention
makes the event stand out. Other popular stations include pasta with
truffles shaved directly onto guests’ plates.
No matter the budget, we always work with our guests to make their
events special. It became more popular to find creative ways to open
up the kitchens so that they provide not only food to the guests, but
entertainment as well.
What are the most popular ingredients that foodies are excited about
As a chef, I’m always excited about what’s in season and fresh. We’re
in the throes of stone-fruit season, so that’s what’s exciting to me right
now. Thinking about what’s hyper-seasonal and how to incorporate it
into everything we do.
CHEF STEPHAN PYLES
Afifth-generation Texan, Stephan Pyles is one of the origina- tors of modern southwestern cuisine. He has authored four
cookbooks and hosted two seasons of the Emmy-winning PBS
series New Tastes from Texas. After selling his restaurants in
Dallas, Las Vegas, and Austin, Pyles took a five-year sabbatical
that let him study, write, and teach in Latin America, the Eastern
FOOD & BEVERAGE