David Kinch has forged a distinctive culinary career path leading to the opening of Manresa and putting him at the forefront of new contemporary California cuisine. Kinch’s driving force for his daily work remains the satisfaction he gets from cooking. “Very simply, I love doing this,” he says. “My great pleasure is people being incredibly happy with their experience at the restaurant.”
Although he was born in Philadelphia, Kinch was raised in New Orleans, a city with a rich and distinctive culinary history that had a lasting impact on him. His first job was in a restaurant kitchen at the age of 16 and from there he formally pursued a culinary career by enrolling at Johnson and Wales Culinary Academy in Providence, RI. “The only jobs I’ve ever had were in restaurants; “I was fascinated by the culture of working in them,” he recalls. “I knew early on that I wanted to have my own restaurant.” After graduating, Kinch spent the next 15 years working his way up in the culinary world, completing stages at Michelin-starred restaurants in France, Germany, and Spain; working as a chef in New York; and as a consultant chef in Fukuoka, Japan. In 1993, he relocated to San Francisco and two years later opened Sent Sovi in Saratoga, CA. In 2002, he moved south to Los Gatos, buying the property that would become Manresa.
Kinch’s culinary philosophy is fostered by the terroir, or the “sense of place” of the California Coast, and the kind of ingredient-driven cooking and modern technique he has studied around the world. His pursuit for exceptional ingredients has inspired an exclusive partnership with Farmer and Owner Cynthia Sandberg of Love Apple Farms, where all of the vegetables, as well as herbs, eggs, honey, and many other ingredients, are grown for the restaurant. By having an exclusive working relationship with the farm for most of his ingredients, Kinch is creating a closed loop between the farm and his kitchen, and assuring that the dining experience imparts to guests a distinct sense of place and time.
“What we have is a working farm and a working restaurant,” Kinch says. “We’ve made it a viable partnership, and that makes it unique. Every decision we make is based on the quality of what we can do and controlling the quality of the ingredients we offer our guests.” For ingredients not provided by the farm, Kinch works closely with local purveyors, making sure that everything being presented on the menu meets the same high standards.
Liam & Chef David Kinch (credit: Foodie Chap/Liam Mayclem)
Manresa has been awarded two Michelin stars for eight consecutive years and was named one of Restaurant Magazine and San Pellegrino’s “Top 50 Best Restaurants in the World” in 2012. In 2010, Kinch was awarded the Best Chefs in America award for the Pacific region from the James Beard Foundation. This year, Bon Appetit called Manresa one of the “20 Most Important Restaurants in America.”
Kinch released a cookbook titled “Manresa: An Edible Reflection” in October 2013, which was number 19 on the New York Times “Best Sellers List.” It might just be the most stunning cookbook I have ever had the joy of owning. The book is a window into the world of Manresa and the passion and philospohy of the man behind it.
Chef lives in Santa Cruz, CA and when not in the kitchen he enjoys spending time outside surfing and sailing.
We met in San Francisco recently at a gathering for his new book. Enjoy the conversation with one of the smartest, most passionate and indeed humble Chefs I have ever met, a Chef and artist who is steadfast in his commitment to quality and excellence AND to the bio-dynamic cycle that drives his farm and restaurant.
Ladies and Gentlemen – CHEF DAVID KINCH
KCBS Foodie Chap Podcast:
Chef David Kinch’s Winter Tidal Pool Recipe (credit: Foodie Chap/Liam Mayclem)
A Winter Tidal Pool
| Pickled Kelp |
115 grams (1/2 cup) unseasoned rice wine vinegar
115 grams (1/2 cup) white wine vinegar
115 grams (1/2 cup) water
55 grams (1/4 cup) sugar
55 grams (2 ounces) battera kombu, rinsed in cold water and cut crosswise into 3/4-inch-wide strips
Whisk the vinegars, water, and sugar together, bring to a boil, and boil until the sugar dissolves. Cool the mixture to room temperature. Submerge the kombu in the pickling liquid, cover, and steep overnight in the refrigerator. The pickled kombu can be made ahead of time and will keep for months.
| Abalone |
1 red abalone, 115 grams (4 ounces), ?90 millimeters (31/2 inches) in length
Remove the abalone from its shell and with kitchen shears, remove the viscera. Rinse thoroughly in lukewarm water to relax the meat. Place the abalone between 2 kitchen towels with the foot side up and pound forcefully with a meat pounder or heavy pan until the foot flattens. (Typically this takes 2 good blows.) Allow it to rest in a covered container in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours or overnight.
| Mushroom Gel |
20 grams (0.7 ounce) dried shiitake mushrooms
200 grams (scant 1 cup) warm water
5 to 10 grams (1 to 2 teaspoons) dark soy sauce (koikuchi shoyu)
Xanthan gum (0.6 percent of weight of liquid)
Soak the mushrooms in the water for at least 6 hours, or overnight. Strain the mixture, reserving the mushrooms for another use, and season the liquid assertively with soy sauce and salt. Weigh the seasoned liquid and then transfer to a blender. Weigh out xanthan equaling 0.6 percent of the liquid weight (for example, for 100 grams of liquid, use 0.6 gram of xanthan). While blending on the lowest speed, gradually shear in the xanthan. Continue blending until the mixture thickens, 5 to 6 minutes, and then strain the gel into a vacuum seal bag. Vacuum at 100 percent, without sealing, 5 to 6 times to remove air bubbles introduced during blending. The gel will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
| Oyster Gel |
120 grams (1/2 cup) oyster liquid, strained through cheesecloth
0.7 gram xanthan gum (0.6 percent of weight of liquid)
Pinch of edible silver flake
Season the oyster liquid to taste with salt and transfer to a blender. While blending on the lowest speed, gradually shear in the xanthan and add the silver flake. Continue blending until the mixture thickens. Transfer the mixture to a vacuum seal bag without straining, and vacuum at 100 percent 5 to 6 times to remove air bubbles. The gel will keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.
| Tidal Broth |
1 kilogram (41/4 cups) soft water (low mineral content, for example, Fiji water)
12 grams (0.5 ounce) dried shiitake mushrooms
15 grams (0.5 ounce) dried large kombu
25 grams (0.9 ounce) thinly shaved bonito flakes (katsuo bushi)
30 to 60 grams (2 to 4 tablespoons) white soy sauce (shiro shoyu)
15 to 20 grams (3 to 4 teaspoons) ponzu
Combine the water, mushrooms, and kombu in a large pan, cover, heat to 140°F (60°C), and steep for 1 hour. Remove and discard the kombu. Heat the mushrooms and broth to 175°F (80°C). Add the bonito flakes, stir for 15 seconds, and immediately strain through a chinois lined with cheesecloth or a linen towel. Discard the solids and season the broth to taste with soy sauce, ponzu, and salt. If making ahead, reserve in the refrigerator.
>> To Serve
1 to 2 sheets gold nori
Grapeseed oil, for frying
80 grams (3 ounces) foie gras, sliced into 10-gram (0.3-ounce) pieces
8 cleaned sea urchin (uni) tongues
20 New Zealand spinach leaves
20 small Malabar spinach leaves
Green scallion tops, sliced very thinly on an extreme bias and soaked in ice water until curled
1 to 2 bunches enoki mushrooms, stems trimmed to 1 inch
1 to 2 whole yuzu or Meyer lemons