Catch of the day: Chef Michael Mina unveils new menu, future plans

The chef recently visited Saudi Arabia, holding a pop-up restaurant on an island in the Red Sea. (AFP)
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Updated 11 February 2020

Catch of the day: Chef Michael Mina unveils new menu, future plans

  • Michael Mina’s new menu features a ‘raw’ selection of fish carpaccio alongside meatier mains, such as Beef Short Rib Wellington.
  • The chef is most known for his Michelin-starred eponymous restaurant in San Francisco

DUBAI: Chef Michael Mina, born in Cairo and raised in the US, was in Dubai recently for the launch of a new menu at MINA Brasserie with Beirut-born chef de cuisine Rami Nasser. The restaurant, at the Four Seasons Hotel DIFC, is celebrating its second anniversary on Feb. 12.

The new menu features a “raw” selection of fish carpaccio alongside meatier mains, such as Beef Short Rib Wellington. The Roasted Beetroot Salad, topped with warm goat’s cheese, is likely to become as popular as the brasserie’s Chickpea Fries with moutabel, tahini and pomegranate.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

In the @michaelminasf kitchen with the man @r_dixit!! : @gammanine

A post shared by Michael Mina (@chefmichaelmina) on

Mina, most known for his Michelin-starred eponymous restaurant in San Francisco, also recently visited Saudi Arabia, holding a pop-up restaurant on an island in the Red Sea as part of a private event. Could a restaurant in the Kingdom be in the future? He didn’t rule it out when we caught up with him to find out more about his passion for food and future plans.

The culinary wizard revealed that through MINA Brasserie, his first international restaurant, he “learned how important it is to understand the different cultures surrounding where a restaurant is, and how to really cater to the clientele of that culture. We have such a diverse clientele in Dubai, and it’s been incredible to create a new menu at MINA Brasserie that really exemplifies the spirit of a brasserie, while also mixing in technique and global flavors that reflect how diverse and unique our guests here are.”

Beyond Dubai, Mina is excited about prospects in Saudi Arabia, and answered with a resounding “100 per cent” when asked if he would consider opening a restaurant in the Kingdom.

“It’s an exciting time. Food is such a focus for people and brings people from all over the world. It will be a big driver of the change that’s taking place there,” he said of the country’s food scene.

If he does indeed return, it won’t be Mina’s first time in Saudi Arabia — he was recently wowed by an island in the Red Sea, saying: “We did an extremely dynamic event on an island. The beauty of the island was extraordinary — it was so inspiring to be in a place like that and to understand its history and how unique our experience was.”


Film review: Great storytelling makes for fascinating watch in Netflix’s ‘Yeh Ballet’

“Yeh Ballet” is no rags-to-riches story, but one of sheer fortitude and a bit of luck. (Supplied)
Updated 24 February 2020

Film review: Great storytelling makes for fascinating watch in Netflix’s ‘Yeh Ballet’

CHENNAI: Sooni Taraporevala gained immense fame by writing for Mira Nair’s films, such as “The Namesake,” “Mississippi Masala” and the Oscar-nominated “Salaam Bombay.” In 2009, Taraporevala stepped behind the camera to helm a small movie called “Little Zizou” about the Parsi community. It was a hit, and three years ago, she took up the camera again to create a virtual reality short documentary about two boys from Mumbai’s slums who became renowned ballet dancers. 

Taraporevala converted her documentary into a full-length feature, “Yeh Ballet,” for Netflix, and the work, though with a somewhat documentary feel, is fascinating storytelling — a talent we have seen in her writings for Nair. 

Happily, “Yeh Ballet” is no rags-to-riches story (of the kind “Gully Boy” was), but one of sheer fortitude and a bit of luck. The film begins with a breathtaking aerial shot of the Arabian Ocean on whose shores Mumbai stands — an element that points toward the director’s background as a photographer. 

The film chronicles the lives of Nishu and Asif Beg. (Supplied) 

A story inspired by true events, “Yeh Ballet” chronicles the lives of Nishu (Manish Chauhan) and Asif Beg (newcomer Achintya Bose). The two lads are spotted by a ballet master, Saul Aaron (British actor Julian Sands) who, driven away from America because of his religion, lands in a Mumbai dance school.

Nishu and Asif, despite their nimble-footed ballet steps, find their paths paved with the hardest of obstacles. When foreign scholarships from famous ballet academies come calling, they cannot get a visa because they have no bank accounts. And while Asif’s father, dictated by his religion, is dead against the boy’s music and dancing, Nishu’s dad, a taxi driver, feels that his son’s passion is a waste of time and energy.

Well, all this ends well — as we could have guessed — but solid writing and imaginative editing along with Ankur Tewari’s curated music and the original score by Salvage Audio Collective turn “Yeh Ballet” into a gripping tale. It is not an easy task to transform a documentary into fiction, but Taraporevala does it with great ease. Or so it appears. Of course, the two protagonists add more than a silver lining to a movie that will be long remembered — the way we still mull over “Salaam Bombay” or “The Namesake.” But what I missed was a bit more ballet; the two guys are just wonderful to watch as they fly through the air.