Chefs at Home: Michael Mina's Wine Country Kitchen Slideshow
November 21, 2012
We are welcomed into the Mina home with Dean Martin playing from those speakers to the left and autumnal decorations hanging on the door. Every piece in the Mina household has some kind of story, or a vintage-feel to it. "I don't like all things being the same and I like pieces that are made by a local artist or that have a history behind them," Diane told us in an email.
The living room’s centerpiece, a coffee table from Pottery Barn, features trinkets collected from family outings and events. "I didn't want to just put things in there without a thought, so I asked each one of my family members to give me something personal of theirs to help contribute to 'peek- a- boo' treasure chest," Diane said. That didn't happen, so Diane dug around for trinkets of her own.
Diane chose a tiara that her mother wore on her wedding day in 1964, silverware from her grandmother on her mother’s side, shells from family vacations to Hawaii and beach trips, rocks from the Minas' old home, her grandfather’s cuff links, her great-grandmother’s watch, a bracelet from her aunt, and strings of pearls passed down through her family. And that’s only half of the items.
The blue bookshelf houses a collection of cookbooks, family portraits, and of course, The Dangerous Book for Boys.
Among the extensive cookbook collection? A set of Woman's Day encyclopedias, which belonged to Diane’s mother. "I remember my mom coming home around 5:30 and grabbing a Woman's Day cookbook and there she went. It was amazing how she managed both working and cooking, but I think it’s because the books are simple and that's what you did back then," Diane said. "[You know] when you walked in the door and asked, 'Mom, what's for dinner?' I want that for our children."
Michael picks up cookbooks wherever he travels, buying books relevant to regional cuisine. "One of my go-to books is Hot Sour Salty Sweet: A Culinary Journey Through Southeast Asia," Michael said. "I have pages and pages of this bookmarked for reference."
On one side of the kitchen is a map of Sonoma and Napa County, along with photos of the Minas' dogs, doctors’ business cards, and other everyday tchotkes. The Minas have two dogs: Molly, an 8-year-old Poodle Bichon mix, and Athena, a 5-year-old Great Pyrenees and Turkish Akbash mix.
The statement dining table was discovered in an antique store in San Francisco some 15 years ago. "I fell in love with the table but didn't like the legs that originally came with it, so I searched another store and found the legs I liked. The owner was so sweet and switched out the legs for me," Diane said. Originally, the table was dark pine, but after moving into this house and painting the outside white, Diane decided to paint the dining table as well. "I wanted to bring the blue sky inside feeling my home," Diane said. Similarly, the chandelier originally sported bronze chain leaves, so Diane spray-painted the chandelier completely white to match the house’s hues.
Diane actually helms the inside kitchen, which was hardly remodeled when they moved in. "In the main house we replaced the dishwasher, stove, and refrigerator with Viking appliances," Diane said.
Other than the paint job, most of the inside kitchen remains the same. The previous owner was a caterer, and chose the marble countertops because the pattern reminded her of parsley; the Minas kept it.
The sign above the stove was a Christmas gift from Diane’s friend to Michael. "We’re no longer friends," Diane said, joking (of course).
A little French influence is brought in with the adorable "Toilette" sign, from Z Gallerie.
Another blast from the past; this old rotary phone was left by the previous owner, who just used it for decoration. Diane, however, got it to work. "I popped it off the wall and found a cord that would make it work, and voilà," she said. "It works beautifully. I do not like cellphones or cordless phones. I understand the need, but prefer the real deal."
A giant ladle hangs next to the kitchen, a decorative statement from another natique store in San Anselmo called Yankie Girl. The Buon Appetito sign? Another purchase from Z Gallerie.
While Diane may take charge of the indoor kitchen, the outdoor area is all Michael. "We both love entertaining to the highest level, so this is where we go nuts and go big," Diane says. On the right is the outdoor kitchen, which was custom-built for the Minas when they moved in. On the left? An epically long table, complete with 150-year-old barn wood legs, to host a crowd of 15 to 20 people on the regular. "This outdoor dining area will be there for a lifetime," Diane said.
The kitchen area is equipped with Viking cooking gear, plus a pizza oven for wood-fired pizzas. "I wanted the look to stay as natural as possible, so the bar and kitchen slabs are also colored concrete but they are painted in indigo blue," Diane said.
As for the wood-burning pizza oven, or Michael Mina’s baby, the brick encasing was hand cut and laid one-by-one, so it fits that perfect kitty corner.
At the Cook Taste Eat party, the kitchen team kept up a running line of pizzas to serve to guests. This includes a prosciutto pizza, plus others with fresh tomatoes and herbs from the Minas' own garden.
The outdoor kitchen, which is L-shaped to ensure proper workflow, is stocked fully with Viking gear and a Hobart dishwasher.
The bar area, which was constructed with an old chicken coop for the back wall, is permanently christened the Boom Boom Room. "[The sign] was the first thing I had hung," Diane said, adding that the sign is from The Pavilion, another (you guessed it) antique store. "I love to dance so I had to have it." And while Michael may helm the pizza oven, "The bar is my territory and where I bring some personality to the backyard," Diane said.
Another excellent feature to the backyard (other than the pool for summertime parties) is a bonfire area, perfect for chillier nights or s’mores.
Perhaps one of the most important additions to the backyard was the Mina Garden, where the family grows produce year-round. "Items we can't be without are arugula, basil, cilantro, chives, rosemary, and Thai chiles. All of those are our key items for our homemade pizzas," Diane said.
An overview of the Minas' backyard from a hill, right by the entrance to a water slide for the pool. It is California, after all.