Michael Mina And Michelle Branch Talk New Cooking Show & More!

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main For all of you Food Network junkies out there, we've got another hot cooking show to put on your radar. It's called Cook Taste Eat, and it's the brainchild of legendary S.F.-based chef and restaurateur Michael Mina and Tanya Melillo (the lady behind swoon-worthy Ram's Gate Winery).

Just launched this month, the online show serves up daily cooking lessons and recipes in "bite-sized" portions. All the clips are hosted by Mina, with co-host Michelle Branch and other guest hosts like Charles Phan helping out.

We recently got a chance to sit down with the folks behind the start-up in the Cook Taste Eat test kitchen in the Mission (right next to Flour + Water). Of course, we couldn't resist quizzing the famed hosts on their top off-the-clock eats, future plans, and more! Read their responses, right here.

What was the first dish you ever cooked as a kid?
Michael Mina: "It's actually a Middle Eastern dish. And I can't remember the name of it right now. It's like macaroni, then ground beef with all of these spices in it, then more macaroni, and cheese on top. I watched my mom make it and thought, 'That's not too hard.' I was maybe 7-years-old."
Michelle Branch: "The first thing I made on my own was when my older brother was babysitting and my parents were gone. I was obsessed with reading recipes on the back of boxes and I made a grasshopper cake. I was probably seven and a half. When my parents came home, the kitchen was a mess! I thought it was amazing."

Michael, if you're not eating at your own restaurants, where do you eat in the city? And, Michelle, what about you when you're visiting?
MM: "I actually live by Point Reyes and we have a nice little farm out there, and I also have a place in the city at Millenium Tower. When I'm in the city, it's R and G Lounge, the Chinese restaurant on Kearny and Sacramento. If I want high-end, I'll go to Aziza, Benu, A16, and SPQR. And I will wait in line at the Ferry Building at Roli Roti for the porchetta sandwich. That's about all I'll ever wait for!"
MB: "I go to Nopalito a lot. I love, love, love it there. I like to walk down to the Ferry Building and get my Blue Bottle Coffee. I go to RN74, Slanted Door, Flour + Water. I just love the food up here! One day, I'm trying to talk my husband into possibly moving up here. I like the fact that it's a big city, but you can get out and be in this great agricultural mecca."

Michelle, did you ever think you'd be a co-host on a cooking show?
MB: "It's sort of a dream come true! I would tell everyone in my office that I loved food as much as I loved music and was looking for something I could do with food. I have so many friends that are musicians that are also obsessed with food. When we are in the same city, we're always swapping notes. For a while, I discussed doing a food and music travel show. But for whatever reason it never worked. Then Michael and I met at a charity event and here we are."

Your new site is sort of tech related. Do you consider yourselves techies?
MM: "I've learned how to utilize technology with food. I don't believe in using the iPad for a winelist. I hate that. When I go to a restaurant, I want the wine list. I believe in using technology to make experiences better for your guests. So, how you use it to train your employees and recognize people that want to be recognized. But I don't believe in replacing the traditions in the restaurant with technology."
MB: "I would initially say I'm not a techie. Then you'd stop and tell me everything I do is completely techie. I am such a Twitterholic and I'm always on Instagram. My 7-year-old daughter even calls me out for being on my phone, which is kind of embarrassing. But I feel like it's important with what I do for people to see who you really are."

Michael, what do you cook at home?
MM: "What we do a lot, because we have a wood-burning stove, is pizza. We have a big garden, so everyone just goes out and picks what they want for toppings. When I have time, I like braising in the wood-burning oven with things like short ribs or rabbit. I love that you just pop them in the oven and you don't have to think about them. We do a lot of cooking like that."

Do you ever just make yourself a sandwich?
MM: "Oh yeah! My little son makes it for me. Prosciutto, arugula, a little bit of mustard, and pepper. On a good bread. Or actually, just a bread that tastes good. It doesn't have to be a good bread. [Laughs]."

If your style was a dish, what would it be?
MM: "Comfort is a big thing. I like clothes that just feel good, like Theory and Hugo Boss. So, I guess the dish would be a refined-comfort dish. Maybe short ribs!"
MB: "I'm going to pick a dish that is one of my husband's favorite things I make him. I'm a baker at heart — if I hadn't done music, I would have gone to pastry school. I do a bourbon-pecan pie, so it's classic and traditional and rustic, with a tiny edge to it, from the bourbon. And I think that's kind of me!"

Michael, besides Cook Taste Eat, what's coming up for you next?
MM: "We just announced an Indian restaurant two doors down from Boulevard, in the old Shanghai 1930 space. The childhood friends of my sommelier, Rajat Parr, are amazing chefs he went to culinary school with and they're going to be my partners. It will be great for me, because I can learn a lot and I'm really intrigued by Indian food. I'm very fortunate at this point in my career that I can get an opportunity like this to learn."

Photographed by Molly DeCoudreaux


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