Chef Talk: Behind the Scenes at the Power of Love® Gala with Celebrity Chef Michael Mina

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Chef Michael Mina adds the finishing touches to a dish at the 21st annual Keep Memory Alive Power of Love Gala.

Photo Credit: Denise Truscello for Keep Memory Alive.

For the past two decades, one of the highlights of Keep Memory Alive’s Power of Love® Gala is the exquisite one-of-a-kind cuisine prepared by world-renowned celebrity chefs such as Wolfgang Puck and Michael Mina. Chef Puck has been involved since the launch of the first event and chef Mina joined the cause after speaking to Larry Ruvo about the gala’s mission to raise awareness and funds for a cause dear to his heart. We caught up with chef Mina to discuss the efforts necessary to prepare such an eclectic dining experience to over 1500 guests at one of the most extravagant events in Las Vegas.

Have you participated in Power of Love® before this year?

Yes, I participate every year in some shape or form, whether it’s an entrée item, an auction item or canapés, but the last time I did a course at the dinner was for Muhammad Ali’s 70th birthday and it was really special.

What dish are you preparing this year and what was your inspiration for it?

My dish is very true to my heart this year because my partner in all my restaurants is Andre Agassi, who’s being honored this year, so I have a little insight on what Andre loves to cook and what he loves to eat. Andre is a fanatic about cooking steak. When I first met Andre and got to know him, he invited me over to his house for dinner; he put tape around the kitchen and wouldn’t even let me enter the kitchen. He said, “I’m cooking you steak and I want your honest opinion about it.” So we’ve always had this running joke about cooking meat, and tonight I’m going to do an Australian Wagyu beef in two preparations tonight: a braised short rib and a roasted poivre of the beef with a little bit of tomato jam and caramelized onion tartare. I just went and saw some of the canapés they are serving from Chef (Joël) Robuchon’s L’Atelier and they’re amazing. I’ve done a lot of events and have rarely seen any at this level, so it’s great and I’m blessed to be apart of it.

Can you give us an idea of the enormity of the different ingredients you had to procure and how much you needed to make the Wagyu dishes?

The dinner is for 1,500 people so you always have to prep a little extra. We started with about 1,900 pounds of Wagyu beef and then it was butchered down and you get about a 50% yield out of it. We prep for about 1,600 people just to be on the safe side.

 

Chef Michael Mina holding up his dish at the 21st annual Keep Memory Alive Power of Love Gala.
Chef Michael Mina holding up his dish at the 21st annual Keep Memory Alive Power of Love Gala.

Photo Credit: Denise Truscello for Keep Memory Alive.

How much staff is needed in the execution of the cuisine?

In the kitchen alone, we have over 300 people that have taken part in this. They are a combination of this amazing staff here at MGM Grand, and they are great because they are so used to hosting events like this; chefs like myself, and there’s not that many times that we are working an event for 1,500 people at a plated dinner, so we rely on the team here; and we also brought in a big part of our team as well, bringing all of our head chefs and sous chefs from all of our restaurants here in Las Vegas.

How do you like working with Wolfgang Puck?

I love working with Wolfgang (laughs)! Wolfgang Puck has been an inspiration to me since I started cooking school and he was one of the first chefs that I really absolutely idolized. The thing that I respect the most about chef Wolfgang is his food, first and foremost, but also that he really gets it and understands the hospitality side of what we do and I think nobody has done that better than him. No matter what, he’s always had that passion for people, and that comes through in the food and I think it’ll come through tonight.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I’m very blessed to be here and very excited to see Bon Jovi.

 

If you missed this year’s Power of Love Gala®, you can still get a taste of chef Mina’s cuisine at one of his four restaurants on the Las Vegas Strip:

  • Bardot Brasserie
  • Michael Mina Bellagio
  • Pub 1842
  • Stripsteak

 

 

 

 

 

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