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Culinary Sensations Only On Florida’s Paradise Coast

by Our Editors
Naples Two Cocktails with the Oceanview (Photo by Preto Perola)

Grab a fork & join us as we dish up some culinary magic with three unique individuals who live, work & create in Naples, Florida.

Photo by Preto Perola

If you love to eat and try new culinary creations as much as we do, then Florida’s Paradise Coast (Naples, Marco Island, and the Everglades) is the place for you.

Naples, Florida is always cooking up something good, especially when it comes to food! If you love to eat and try new culinary creations as much as we do, then Naples, Marco Island, and the Everglades are the place for you. To find out what makes Florida’s Paradise Coast such a delectable destination for foodies, we asked three local chefs to share their insights into the people, places, and tantalizing dishes that every visitor should experience while they are here. So grab a fork and join us as we dish up some culinary magic with three unique individuals who live, work, and create in Naples, Florida. paradisecoast.com/LGBTQ

MICHAEL MIR

Michael Mir is the chef and proprietor of Bha! Bha! Bistro (bhabhabistro.com) on 5th Avenue South in Naples, Florida. He was born in Tehran, Iran, grew up in Maryland, and is a self-educated chef. He started his first restaurant, Gourmet Cafe, 36 years ago in Baltimore, Maryland and prior to that he worked for about 20 years for the Marriott Corporation in some of their best hotels in the Washington DC area.

Michael Mir

Michael Mir. Chef and proprietor of Bha! Bha! Bistro

Who are some of your culinary role models?
Back in the 80s I was always inspired by French chef Madeleine Kommone. She was one of the pioneer educators on PBS in the same era as Julia Child. When the TV Food Network was established they featured Chef John Ash who also became my inspiration. I was also inspired by Najmieh Batmanglich who is the author of Persian cookbooks. Of course, every boys first inspiration is his mother. Mine was a “grand dame” and a perfect hostess.

What is your motto or philosophy when it comes to food?
Cook and serve today’s food today.” I believe the secret to good food is the freshness of ingredients. Sadly with today’s population explosion and fast style of living, that has become a true challenge. Hence another crazy phrase that I use sarcastically is: “Conveyor belt food!” Thanks a lot Costco and Walmart!

What is one of your proudest signature creations in the kitchen?
Something very homestyle and comfortable called Garlic Eggplant & Chicken. The food critic of the Baltimore Sun was retiring and she decided to write about my cafe in her very last food column. She proudly boasted that this particular meal would be the very last one she would enjoy as a food critic. She did me the honor of saying that she could not have retired without writing about it. My mother had cooked this dish when I was a boy while traveling in the northern providence by the Caspian Sea in Iran on holiday. She stopped at the Village Market and ought the ingredients for this dish. I never forgot that meal. I put my own twist on it 30 years later.

Which celebrity or well-known person would you most love to see come in and enjoy your food?
The Queen! Oh not any queen! Ha ha…I’m referring to Her Majesty Queen Farah Pahlavi the deposed Empress of Iran. She is 83 years old, living in Connecticut and Paris. I understand that sometimes she comes to Naples, Florida! She is my idol. Oh did I mention that I am a royalist deep down? As a boy I recall back in the early 70s she used to receive heads of the states, including Imelda Marcos, the deposed king and queen of Greece, the king and queen of Jordan, President Anwar Sadat and his wife, the Kennedys and so on. Of course celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, Charles Aznavour, and Elizabeth Taylor used to come to Tehran and be the royal guests as well. As a young boy I always wondered what kind of food did these people eat! I often used to think to myself that one day I will grow up to cook like that and perhaps I will meet her majesty. Well, the only thing left is for her to walk through the doors of my restaurant. Wouldn’t that be fabulous?!

What are some of your favorite local restaurants?
Cosmos Italian restaurant. Mr. Big Fish. Tulia’s Trattoria on 5th Avenue and Maria’s Tacos.

What are some local food or beverage products that visitors should bring back home with them?
Lychee fruit and mangoes picked in Pine Island, real Florida tomatoes at Immokalee fruit market, and Florida orange blossom honey.

Why is Naples such a great place for people who love food?
Primarily the wonderful beaches of course. I say this because just about every summer I spend ample time in Europe; from the beaches of Spain to the south of France and of course the Greek Islands. Though they are truly wonderful beaches, nothing really beats the fabulous soft Sands of Naples and Marco Island beaches. Also to discover the surrounding Villages such as The Immokalee Village, Pine Island, and Matlachee are truly wonderful day trips. But nothing is as Fabulous as dining and shopping on 5th Avenue South!

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