In an early December Instagram post, Ayesha Curry announced that she and her husband, Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry, had gotten matching tattoos to symbolize their three children: a unicorn for 7-year-old Riley; a butterfly representing 4-year-old Ryan; and a wolf for 16-month-old Canon.
Had Curry wanted to, she could have taken the beautiful gesture even further. In fact, no one would have batted an eye had she gotten a goat inked onto her skin in honor of Steph, the man who many NBA experts consider the greatest long-range shooter of all-time.
And if she weren’t being modest, Curry could have asked for a bull, a horse or some other animal that epitomizes hard work for herself. The celebrity effortlessly stars in the role of mother, wife, TV personality, model, product pitchwoman, chef and one of the world’s biggest basketball fans.
To make things even more impressive, Curry, a Toronto native who moved to North Carolina in her early teens, has opened her fifth International Smoke restaurant with chef extraordinaire Michael Mina — this time at Las Vegas’ famed MGM Grand Hotel & Casino.
We recently caught up with the tireless Curry to talk about the new venture, Vegas’ dining scene and the European trip she took that stamped her love for the culinary arts.
Congratulations on International Smoke opening at MGM Grand. Why was that hotel the perfect place for your new restaurant?
Thank you! I have been thrilled about each of our locations thus far, but particularly excited about this one. The Vegas restaurant scene is really one of a kind, and features incredible chefs from all over world. We’re grateful to be a part of that community.
There are a lot of celebrity chefs around Las Vegas. What separates Michael Mina from the crowd?
Well, I could go on and on about how amazing Michael is as a person, but as a chef, I’d attribute his success in the restaurant industry to his attention to detail.
From the care he takes to sourcing ingredients all the way to the respect he shows his staff, he truly cares about what he does and [cares] about each guest that comes in to dine at his restaurants. The Mina Group’s hospitality is unmatched. Everyone that dines feels like family, and that’s in large part due to Michael’s leadership.
For the person who’s never had a meal at International Smoke, what is a dining experience like at the restaurant?
Well, if you’re dining with me, it usually starts with a Shape Shifter — one of our cocktails that’s a personal favorite. But jokes aside, International Smoke is comfortable enough to make everyone feel at home but with the ambiance of a fun night out.
A lot of our dishes are served family style, so that everyone can try a little bit of everything. While all our dishes are fantastic, the star of the show is always the ribs. If my family’s eating, we almost always need a second order of the Korean sesame-gochujang ribs.
Your and Mina’s international travels heavily influence the menu. Name a few places that you’ve been that had lasting culinary impressions on you.
The concept of International Smoke was really to showcase and celebrate amazing flavors and grilling techniques from around the globe.
I recently took a trip to Italy for my birthday with my sisters and closest girlfriends, which basically consisted of us eating and drinking our way through Tuscany, Rome, Venice and Umbria. It was incredible. I learned a ton. But most of all, I was able to soak up the spirit and energy of Italian cooking, which is so fun and vibrant.
When you look across Las Vegas’ dining scene, what are your thoughts on it?
What I love about the Vegas dining scene is that a restaurant can’t just be about having a good meal. People are looking to have an experience when they come into your restaurant, and that aligns so well with Michael’s and my vision for International Smoke and what we bring to the table.
We want people to walk away remembering the people they ate with, the music that was playing, the cocktail they ordered and, of course, the incredible food.
We see you juggling the hats of restaurateur, mom, cookware spokesperson, philanthropist, wife, social media star and basketball fan. What are some of your secrets for having enough energy for all the different roles?
Coffee in the morning and wine at night. Occasionally flip-flop. In all seriousness, I love what I do and the people I surround myself with. When you have passion for what you do, you dig deep and will always come up with enough energy to make time for it all.
If your schedule was clear and the kids were off on a playdate, what would you do for fun for a few hours?
I could lie and say Pilates, but let’s be honest, I’d take a long, uninterrupted nap.
Does Steph show any interest in the goings on in the kitchen? If he had to prepare a meal, what would it consist of?
He is a very interested and enthusiastic eater. The preparation? Not so much. He has his own little playbook of a few meals he can make in a pinch, but his go-to is a five-ingredient pasta the kids and I love.