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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
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