Michael Mina

It’s April 2009 and Novato’s Michael Mina is on schedule to open his 18th restaurant, RN74. Named for Route Nationale 74, the highway that passes through France’s Burgundy region, this San Francisco wine bar/restaurant on the ground floor of the Millennium Tower will feature executive chef Jason Berthold, former sous chef to Thomas Keller. In April you can also find Mina at the second annual Pebble Beach Food and Wine event, where he and chef de cuisine, Chris L’Hommedieu are “looking forward to being a little riskier and more creative.” When Mina is not making public appearances, writing cookbooks or planning his next great hot spot, he sports his toque at his namesake restaurant in San Francisco, where in step with our nationwide-budget mindset, he says “we’re offering a fantastic expanded bar and lounge menu where guests can enjoy the quality of the Restaurant Michael Mina experience at an excellent value.” Besides the abundance of farm-fresh food products and great neighbors, why does this national culinary celebrity live in Marin? Read on.

You could live anywhere. Why Marin? There are so many reasons­—from the breathtaking beauty of the area to its strong family orientation. It’s such a great place to raise kids. With easy access to a world-class city, the beach and wine country, it’s hard to imagine living anywhere else.

Do you have any favorite restaurants in Marin? Pizzeria Pico on Magnolia Avenue in Larkspur. We love to go with the kids. They have great pizzas and the olive oil ice cream is fantastic.

What makes you happy in Marin? The beauty of Marin —crossing the Golden Gate Bridge every day inspires me. As a father of active boys, I also appreciate all the sports activities one can do in the area with the kids —from hiking to football. We love being outdoors.

What bothers you here? The traffic between Novato and San Rafael.

What do you value every day? My family, living in one of the most beautiful locations in the world and getting to do what I love every day. 

What is your personal idea of luxury? Getting to sleep-in in the morning.

What person has influenced you the most? George Morrone, Charlie Palmer, Jean-Louis Palladin.

What has been the most fulfilling moment in your work?  Opening Restaurant Michael Mina in San Francisco.

What’s your desert island (favorite) book or album? Album: Led Zeppelin IV.

What’s your favorite place to unwind? The Marin Headlands or Hawaii.

Do you have a favorite Marin view? From the Marin Headlands.

What do you like about yourself? That I picked the right career.

Any plans to open a restaurant in Marin? Not at the moment. But if I did, it would be the quaint, family-style Italian restaurant that my wife, Diane, has always dreamed of opening and running.

How do you want to be remembered? As an innovator and a mentor. Supporting up-and-coming talent in the culinary arena is a priority to me. I’ve had tremendous opportunities in my career and I’d like to help others achieve their dreams.

Mimi Towle

Mimi Towle has been the editor of Marin Magazine for over a decade. She lived with her family in Sycamore Park and Strawberry and thoroughly enjoyed raising two daughters in the mayhem of Marin’s youth sports; soccer, swim, volleyball, ballet, hip hop, gymnastics and many many hours spent at Miwok Stables. Her community involvements include volunteering at her daughter’s schools, coaching soccer and volleyball (glorified snack mom), being on the board of both Richardson Bay Audubon Center. Currently residing on a floating home in Sausalito, she enjoys all water activity, including learning how to steer a 6-person canoe for the Tamalpais Outrigger Canoe Club. Born and raised in Hawaii, her fondness for the islands has on occasion made its way into the pages of the magazine.