Welcome to "Mise en Place" – a series dedicated to telling Chef stories. Mise en place is French for "putting in place", and it is what chefs do every day in the kitchen... but how did they get there? What are the experiences, tastes, and moments that put a chef in their culinary place? That's what we'll uncover together through "Mise en Place".
Meet Chef Mina Stone
Mina Stone is the author of two cookbooks: Cooking For Artists (2015) and Lemon, Love and Olive Oil (2021) and a career chef. For years she cooked delicious lunches at Urs Fischer's Brooklyn-based art studio as well as gallery dinners for New York’s art world. In 2019 she opened her own restaurant, Mina's, housed within MoMA’s PS1 in Long Island City, Queens.
We sat down with Chef Mina Stone to talk about her culinary journey and to find out where she draws her inspiration from.
What originally brought you into the kitchen?
Originally, I came to the kitchen only to support myself while I worked on my own fashion line. I had always loved to cook and it was a great part-time job while I pursued my fashion dream.
As time went on I realized I enjoyed spending time in the kitchen much more, I began cooking for different artists and galleries who allowed me to cook what inspired me, and voila! I switched careers, wrote two cookbooks, and opened a restaurant.
The cooking world is so demanding. As a Chef, what makes you feel supported in big or small ways?
My team in the kitchen is like my other family and I love the feeling of mutual support in the workplace. We have a lot of fun and they are my foundation at the restaurant!
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to an aspiring chef?
To not worry too much about having the right equipment in the kitchen and to not worry about messing things up—just start cooking!
Thank you for sharing your delicious Cabbage Salad with Parmesan, Apples, Cherries, Pistachios and Mint recipe with us! What was your inspiration for the dish?
It is a combination of so many things I love – and the inspiration for the ingredients draws from my heritage. Pistachios are cultivated on the island of Aegina where I spent my summers as a child, and my yiayia loved cherries when they were in season.
This salad is a mainstay at the restaurant and we swap out different seasonal ingredients. It is the perfect combination of crunchy, salty, sweet, and juicy. Everything you want in a salad.
What is your favorite cooking memory from growing up?
My yiayia taught me how to roll dolmades (grape leaves stuffed with rice and herbs) and I was absolutely terrible at it. Which, thank goodness, made her laugh.
Do you have an all-time favorite meal?
My all-time favorite meal is “Makaronia me Kima,” pasta with traditional Greek meat sauce that is a sort of beef ragu, scented with cinnamon and cloves.
In your own words, what makes an excellent knife?
I don’t like a lot of different equipment and like to keep things as simple as possible. I use only four knives for the most part. A chef’s knife, a smaller chef’s knife, a paring knife, and a bread knife. They should all be wonderfully sharp. That is an element that is truly life-changing in the kitchen.
And, we have to ask, what's your favorite knife?
My very favorite knife is the WÜSTHOF Classic 8" Chef's Knife. I use it for almost everything.