Michael Mina Happenings & Tomato Dinners

The signature tuna tartare at Michael Mina restaurant. (Photo courtesy of the restaurant

Surprising New Chef at Michael Mina Restaurant, Plus a Bar Treat

Ron Siegel, who was on the opening team at the French Laundry in Yountville and the first American ever to defeat an “Iron Chef” on the original Japanese cult cooking show, is the new head chef at Michael Mina restaurant in San Francisco.

For Siegel, who has spent nearly a decade at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in San Francisco, it’s a home-coming of sorts.

Chef Mina first hired Siegel as a line cook in 1991 at Aqua, the restaurant that used to operate on the same spot where Mina’s eponymous flagship now is.

In the ensuing years, Siegel, a Palo Alto High School grad, worked at Daniel in New York, then became head chef at Masa’s in San Francisco, Charles Nob Hill in San Francisco, and both the Dining Room and its new incarnation, Parallel 37, at the Ritz-Carlton.

Chef Ron Siegel will be the new chef of Michael Mina restaurant. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

“Michael has been a mentor since the early days of my career and it is an honor for me to join the Michael Mina San Francisco team, cooking alongside him,” said Siegel, in a statement.

Siegel will start in September.

Meantime, Michael Mina restaurant wants to entice visitors to its swank bar by offering its famous tuna tartare for a special price of $10 (regularly $19).

The signature tartare, made with ahi, ancho chile, sesame oil, pine nuts and mint is available for that special price at the bar, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.

For even more fun, order an “On the Whim!” custom cocktail. You can have it based on your preferences ($12) or go with the bartender’s choice ($7).

My home-grown heirlooms. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

Tomato Dinners to Savor

It’s prime tomato time and restaurants are showcasing these beautiful heirlooms in special dinners around the Bay.

Sent Sovi in Saratoga is hosting its heirloom tomato dinner on Aug. 30.

A cocktail reception on the patio will kick things off at 7 p.m. with tomato-sake cocktails. Dinner will follow with dishes that include cold soup of tomato and kombu; fried green tomato with “18-hour” condensed tomato and middleton tomme; and tomato shortcake.

Dinner is $135 per person. Purchase tickets here.

In the East Bay, Oliveto in Oakland will host four nights for its 23rd annual Tomato Dinners, Sept. 18-21.

Choose from an array of a la carte dishes such as shaved green tomatoes with abalone, creme fraiche and smoked sea salt; stuffed sardine with spicy Principe Borghese tomato sauce and farro; tomato, cornmeal and rosemary upside-down cake with lemon mascarpone cream.

Down on the coast, Cantinetta Luca in Carmel-by-the-Sea will hold its 5th annual Heirloom Tomato Dinner, Sept. 11.

Three chefs (Jason Balestrieri of Cantinetta Luca, Justin Cogley of Aubergine, and Ron Mendoza of the Mirabel Hotel & Restaurant Group) will oversee the $85 per person dinner.

For reservations, call (831) 625-6500.

More: My Q&A with Chef Ron Siegel

And: A Visit to Parallel 37

And: A Visit to Michael Mina Restaurant

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