Michelin-Starred Chef Michael Mina

Welcome back to the Happy Half Hour! We’re taping this week’s episode at Bayside Kitchen + Bar at the Hilton Garden Inn in Little Italy, which offers SoCal-inspired comfort foods, craft cocktails, and a vibrant mid-century setting.

This week, we have a very special guest, celebrity chef Michael Mina. Michael was recently in town to open the first San Diego location of International Smoke, his barbecue concept with cookbook author and TV host Ayesha Curry, which Troy got the First Look at.

Michael grew up in Eastern Washington state, and after high school he moved to Seattle to attend college and started working at the restaurant located inside the Space Needle. This kicked off his love of food, and he switched gears and moved to New York City to attend the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. Michael went to own to open his namesake restaurants in San Francisco and Las Vegas, which each have a Michelin star. Today, through his company the Mina Group, he owns over 40 restaurants around the world.

We chatted with Michael about the International Smoke concept and how it was inspired by cooking traditions found around the world, and the art of smoking meats and live-fire cooking. We also learned that Carl Schroeder, the executive chef at Market in Del Mar, used to work for Michael back in the day, and talked about how much the industry has changed over the years.

Michael’s San Diego pick for Two People, $50, was Chiko, and the staff liked Claire’s on Cedros and Puesto.

In Hot Plates, we learned about Green Oceanside Kitchen, the city of Oceanside’s new food recovery and preservation facility; La Doña, the new Mexican restaurant in Ocean Beach that’s going to replace the former Nati’s; and The Holding Company, a three-story drinking and live music venue in Ocean Beach from the owners of OB Noodle House. We also talked about Artisan Noodle Tatsuki, a new ramen shop downtown helmed by an alum of LA’s famed Tsujita (which has a one-hour wait). We want to note that there has been a delay in the restaurant’s opening date: It’s now estimated to be August 22.

David’s 60 Second Beer Review this week is our special beer collaboration with Fall Brewing, the Best of San Diego Watermelon Sour.

This week’s Hot Topic is whether the golden age for restaurants is over. Troy has written about this, and the Washington Post recently noted that fast-casual places have taken over and the future looks bleak for traditional sit-down establishments.

The Best of San Diego Party is this Friday! Taste samples from more than 80 restaurants at the most delicious evening of the year. It’s on August 16 at Liberty Station, and it’s your last chance to get tickets! Insiders get a special discount on tickets and front of the line entry.

Thanks for listening, and we’d love to hear from you! Call us at 619-744-0535 and leave a message. Or if you’re too shy to call, you can email HappyHalfHour@sdmag.com. You can give us your recommendations for Two People, $50, tell us about any news happening in San Diego’s culinary world, or let us know who you’d like to hear featured as a guest on the podcast.

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