Chef interviews

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David Kinch

Interviewed June 2011

David Kinch is chef and owner of Manresa in Silicon Valley, awarded two Michelin stars

Q – How long have you been cooking professionally?

My first experience in a restaurant kitchen was in 1977. I have been cooking full time professionally now for just over 30 years. I have been the chef-owner of a restaurant since 1995

Q – Where did you train to cook?

. I started working in kitchens in New Orleans and worked in NY for several years, mostly at the Quilted Giraffe in the mid-80s. I worked in France for almost a year in 1984. I have been in California now since 1989. I spent a couple of years staging and working in France, Spain, Germany, Japan and San Francisco until 1995 when I opened my first restaurant

Q – How would you describe your style of cooking?

Labels are no fun, and it is hard to do. That said, we do work hard to present an experience that is unique to our location and place, in ambiance, cuisine and service. We want it to be reflective of not only where we are but who we are.

Q – Is there a secret for a successful restaurant?

I don't believe there is one secret for a successful restaurant. But one step in the right direction is "Respect your team, respect the clients, respect yourself." It can never be said enough how important it is to take care of your guests the best you possibly can.

Q – Do you have a “signature dish” or favourite dish you enjoy cooking?

Not really. I think we have dishes we are known for but we also try to change, be dynamic and offer new dishes on a regular basis. I think our clients appreciate this effort and have come to expect it.

Q – Do you have a favourite ingredient?

It changes all the time. I think vegetables in general offer endless possibilities and I'm always amazed at their versatility. Seasons pass with enough frequency so one is never bored!

Which restaurant do you most enjoy eating at on your night off?

I like to eat simply on my days off; frequently we cook at home and have friends over, simple dishes, a corkscrew nearby. I like to visit other restaurants occasionally on days off but, really love to eat out and explore when traveling.

What is your most interesting or fun experience from your time in restaurants?

After all these years, I so still enjoy going out to a great restaurant, superb food, great wines. It still find it all exciting, especially when surrounded by loved ones, great friends. It is why I am in the business, that pleasure of the table and being a part of it. But my greatest memories are the meals that changed my perspective, or how I think about food. These meals remain and influence me as if I enjoyed them yesterday.

What would be your “last request” dish?

Got to go with a great roast chicken, truffles, potatoes, mushrooms. Great bread and cheese. Cellar of burgundy nearby...

Is there another chef that you most admire?

There are too many to mention. Do you want one? I think Michel Bras and his philosophy represent the very best of what chefs have to offer. And he does it with humility. He amazes me.

Any advice you would give to someone wanting to become a chef?

Find chefs with integrity and work for them, never mind the cost. Say and learn as much as you can, then move on. Learn how to manage and inspire people. And never lose sight of the happiness of your guests.

Any final thoughts you’d like to add?     


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