Chefs Ron Siegel and Michael Mina go way back — Mina hired Siegel back in the Aqua days, before Siegel went on to make his own name as the opening sous chef at The French Laundry, then later at Charles Nob Hill (where he mentored a young Melissa Perello), and the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton, earning four stars from the Chronicle at both. The Ritz has of course downscaled their restaurant, opening the more casual Parallel 37 this past winter, but it sounds like Siegel wants to get back into the game of non-casual cuisine, and he’s taking a job with his old boss Mina in the same kitchen that once belonged to Aqua, becoming the new executive chef at Restaurant Michael Mina in several weeks.
Siegel tells the Scoop that there won’t be any tension between him and Mina in terms of creative control at Mina’s flagship. "We’re both at the point in our lives when we want the restaurant to be the best it can be," he says. He’s been at the Ritz since 2004.
Mina reopened his eponymous restaurant after retaking the lease of the former Aqua in late 2010. He now has an empire of twenty restaurants around the country, including Bourbon Steak and RN74 here in San Francisco.
We’re awaiting some comments from Mina about the decision, which we should have for you shortly.
Siegel will reportedly remain in the kitchen at Parallel 37 for another few weeks, pending a new chef hire.
Update: We spoke to Mina this afternoon, and he says, "I’m excited to be able to work with and collaborate with a chef I’ve always respected." And he adds that Siegel is a chef with "the kind of talent and experience required to help lead this restaurant into the future." He further clarified that he and Siegel will work together on dishes and the revision of the menu, and that Siegel won’t be coming on board for about five weeks. Any menu changes won’t likely begin for at least six weeks.
We also asked Mina what was his favorite dish that Siegel had ever made, and he cited an uni custard topped with caviar that Siegel made years ago at the Aqua.