The winner was a young toque named Matthew Mina, a Bellevue native whose experience at Napa’s world-class Auberge de Soleil and San Francisco’s Bong Su put him over the top. He began work at the Hunt Club in May.
And left in October.
What happened? “The hotel’s philosophy was going in a different direction from where I wanted to take my career,” Mina told me last week. “Leaving was a mutual decision.”
Jeff Jobe, GM of the Hunt Club’s home, The Sorrento Hotel, concurs. “We went through this great competition and Matthew was clearly the winner,” he clarifies. “But it didn’t mesh, on either side.”
(The restaurant critic would have to agree, as notes from my July dinner attest.)
Mina was snapped up the next month as sous chef at The Salish Lodge and Spa, where he joins other new hires Kevin Shoemaker (director of food and beverage) and Brad Komen (executive chef).
(Yes, that Brad Komen, scion of the Restaurants Unlimited legend Rich Komen and first-in-his-class grad of CIA New York.)
But why would Mina trade his exec chef position for sous chef? “Well, I will be in charge of the pastry program,” he says, which harkens back to his pastry making days at Bong Su.
And then this revealing tidbit: “I’m excited to be at the Salish. They allow me the creative freedom to bring new ideas to the table.”
Perhaps that wasn’t happening at the Hunt Club?