All Michael Mina wants to do this weekend is meet Muhammad Ali. He might just do that. On Saturday night, he’s serving one of the four courses during the 16th Annual Power of Love Gala, Keep Memory Alive’s fundraising gala for the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The event celebrates Ali’s 70th birthday.
“Hopefully I’ll get to meet him,” Mina says. “I’ve been a fan for as long as I can remember.”
This is at least the third year Mina has been involved in dishing out dinner for the event, a stage he shares with Wolfgang Puck, Tom Colicchio and Scott Conant, who will each create their own courses on the menu this year. He’s been offering something for the auction, such as dinner prepared by him in someone’s home, since 1998.
For the dinner for 1,800 at $1,500 a ticket, Mina plans to serve a cold caramelized kampachi with sea beans with a fish sauce, ginger and shaved vegetables. “It’s a large event. You have to very much think about dishes that you’re going to be able to preserve the quality with quantity,” he says. “It’s interesting that you can do raw fish for 1,800 people and they’ll eat it.” This dish happens to be on the menu at American Fish, his campy outpost at Aria.
He’ll be serving it up to a star-studded lineup of celebrities that includes singers Sean Combs, Lenny Kravitz, John Legend, Chris Cornell, Slash, Common, Kelly Rowland, Dave Koz, Joe Perry, Sammy Hagar and Stevie Wonder, who will sing. Actors Anthony Hopkins, Steve Schirripa and Chazz Palminteri are on the agenda, as are tennis greats Andre Agassi and Stefanie Graf, comedian Brad Garrett, magician David Copperfield and more. Even boxing icons Sugar Ray Leonard, Ken Norton, Tommy “Hitman” Hearns, Roberto Duran, Jim Brown and Leon Spinks will be at the gala, which will be broadcast on ABC Feb. 25.
As for Mina, he’s been busy with his new restaurant, Wit and Wisdom, that opened at the Four Seasons in Baltimore last November as well as opening a second there in April called Pabu, a Japanese concept with Ken Tominaga, a Japanese chef in San Francisco at Hana Japanese Restaurant. At Wit and Wisdom, he cooks all of the food over wood, similar to American Fish. “You’d be surprised. People in Baltimore are very into food. They’re eating things you would never expect; things that I would think wouldn’t sell in San Francisco.”
In Vegas and his five restaurants here, Mina has been working on seasonal changes to the menus for spring. He’s already created seven new items for Michael Mina at Bellagio. Seablue’s menu is next up.
For now, we’re betting he’s prepping for the Power of Love Gala and what he’ll say if he does meet Ali.
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