A global dining capital, New York City truly stands above the rest when it comes to cutting-edge cuisine with roots that extend throughout the world.
A good case in point is Mina Newman, who is of Peruvian descent and serves as the executive chef of The Edison Ballroom and new restaurant Sen Sakana, where she collaborates with Osaka, Japan native Taku Nagai to celebrate the Peruvian-Japanese cuisine that resulted from Japanese migration to the South American nation.
“I always wanted to do a Peruvian restaurant,” Mina said. “That culture has penetrated so much into our food—we always had soy sauce and ginger in our house.”
While Sen Sakana is “still getting its sea legs,” having only been open a month at the time of this interview in late August, the dining experience most popular with larger groups can be found at The Edison Ballroom, located in the heart of Times Square and originally opened in the 1930s as the Grand Ballroom of The Edison Hotel.
The ballroom reopened after a multimillion-dollar renovation in 2008 with Newman at the helm. The key to the success of the venue is flexibility, she maintains.
“The Edison is a great choice because we customize all of their food from the point they walk in,” Newman said. “Everything is completely customized for the planner. We can brand an unbelievable amount of things if they want to go in that direction.”
The facility also comes complete with its own spectacular lighting and audiovisual setup—all free of charge—and a full banquet team that can drape the venue.
“It’s a one-stop shop,” Newman said. “There’s not an extra outlay that will blow their budget; they can use their budget on other things, such as great food.”
Speaking of which, Chef Mina points out that the operation has a “great handle on incredible meat,” as the ownership group also operates Christos Steak House in Brooklyn’s Astoria neighborhood. She also singles out its wine list as being among the top of its kind in the city.
Other chef Mina career highlights include working with some of the top culinary stars in the city, including Marc Murphy, Joey Fortunato and Laurent Tourondel, and serving in the kitchen at C.T., which brought Brazilian celebrity chef Claude Troisgros to Manhattan.
A celebrity chef in her own right now, Newman has competed on a variety of culinary television shows, and was the 2009 winner on Chopped. And due to a four-year stint with Four Seasons in Asia, she is also very adept at preparing various Asian cuisines.
The Edison Ballroom can serve 500 seated or host a cocktail buffet for up to 1,200, and boasts a retractable rooftop on one side and a dance floor for up to 300, all on one level.
The key to working successfully with groups, Mina said, is being curious and constantly asking questions.
“You keep having to ask questions,” she said. “People plan parties always for themselves, but what about everyone else? Know who your guests are. I’m trying to please as many people as possible at your event.”