What is in this article?:
- David Kinch: The tsar of terroir
- Hear more from Kinch
Manresa, one of the world's top restaurants, has staked its reputation on a farm. Chef/owner David Kinch explains his approach.
Hear more from Kinch
RH: How do you stay at the top of your game?
Kinch: I’m 51, I still have one restaurant and I still work until 1 in the morning. People tell me I’m nuts, but I still love to come to work in the morning. I’ve always been attracted to the culinary world because I like to eat, I’m fascinated by the potential for creativity and I like working with my hands. But most important, I enjoy making people happy, working hard and doing something I really like with my hands and getting immediate feedback. I can guarantee you that the day that feeling leaves is the day I will leave the business. This is a really crappy business if you don’t believe.
RH: And the restaurant? How do you keep it fresh and compelling?
Kinch: We’re constantly trying to improve it. The farm continues to get bigger and better and is a great inspiration. And I still love to travel and eat. I’m inspired by what I read and where I go and try to incorporate new ideas.
RH: Any especially inspiring destinations?
Kinch: I’ve been going to Japan once or twice a year for four years or so. It’s really hard to find a better gastronomic or culinary country on the planet. Tokyo is probably the best restaurant city in the world. I don’t think there is any close competition, from the quality of the ingredients to the technical skill and training of the workers. The food is healthful, uses hardly any fat, has really well-balanced flavors and is incredibly complex. And they pay an inordinate amount of attention to how food is served. That doesn’t mean I come back and create Japanese dishes, but these are tenets that I like to apply.
Every time I go there I feel like a newborn baby. I will order a dish with familiar ingredients, that, if I had it in a western restaurant, I could tell you how it’s going to taste, what cookbooks the chef has read and where he’s worked. But in Japan, I have these three ingredients put together in a simple way completely different from anything I’ve seen before. That’s why I like to go there.
RH: You’re doing a few “cooking with friends” dinners with some big names to celebrate your 10th anniversary. How did you choose the guest chefs?
Kinch: We started bringing guest chefs in around 2006, when we brought in some European heavy hitters. We did it so people could try food by chefs who inspired others. It was great for our cooks; they had to work harder and longer, but they had a chance to see new things as well.
This time around, we’re bringing in Michael Cimarusti (Providence Restaurant, L.A.) and Carlo Mirarchi (Roberta’s, Brooklyn, NY) because they are close friends and we want them to be part of our anniversary; and John and Karen Shields (most recently with Town House in Chilhowie, VA), who seem to be a great representation of the next generation of fine dining in America. We also invited back a bunch of old kitchen employees and chefs who have worked with me over the past 10 years. They have been major parts in the restaurant’s success, and they’re all going to do a course. We’ll celebrate.