Executive General Manager Michael Gaines applies years of
intercontinential culinary and business management expertise to the
historic Laguna Beach, CA restaurant, Las Brisas. An Orange County
native and experienced chef, he understands the importance of
preserving Las Brisas’ legendary and timeless character, while treating guests to a modern, refreshed dining experience. Gaines collaborates with the esteemed culinary team to provide a polished sea-to-table dining program, which concentrates on classic Mexican and Latin ingredients—melding contemporary and seasonal Southern Californian influences.
With his diverse background of working in Michelin-starred
kitchens in addition to being a restaurant owner, Gaines brings new life to Las Brisas by revamping menus and revitalizing the interiors,
elevating service standards with heart-driven hospitality. “We just want people to feel comfortable and at-home, so we can ensure their dining experience is at the same level as the spectacular views,” Gaines says.
He strives for guests, whether longstanding regulars or newcomers, to experience not only the intriguing, refined elements of Las Brisas, but also leave with cherishable moments. Delving into the culinary industry as a teenager, Gaines worked as a busboy at mom-and-pop restaurants, which piqued his interest in gastronomy and nurtured his passion. In 2004, he moved to San Francisco to pursue his culinary career, graduating from California Culinary Academy and acquiring his first Michelin-starred experience as chef de partie at Gary Danko. After three years, he joined David Kinch’s team
as a sous chef at Manresa in Los Gatos—a time which he recalls as pivotal for his growth in a “one-of-a-kind environment.” Expanding his refined portfolio, Gaines spent six months staging in Europe under renowned chef Mauro Colagreco at Mirazur in France, as well as Kobe Desramault at De Wulf in Belgium.
Returning to San Francisco, he joined the opening team at Central Kitchen for the Ne Timeas Restaurant Group and the sister property, Flour + Water. Gaines then brought his talents to Kin Khao and
helped the restaurant earn its first Michelin-star in 2013—a life-changing highlight of his career. Inspired for a new venture, he and his wife opened their own restaurant, Glena’s, as a neighborhood spot for Cal-Mexican fare, gaining recognition from Eater San Francisco, as well as San Francisco Chronicle in 2017.
Xperience Restaurant Group noticed Gaines’ deft talents, bringing him back to his native Orange County roots to helm Las Brisas, at which he ensures newly distinguished guest experiences. Aside from work, Gaines enjoys his free time with family, hanging out with friends, and surfing.