Last night marked the final alumni dinner in celebration of Manresa’s tenth anniversary, and chef David Kinch is now recharging quietly at home in Santa Cruz in anticipation of another busy week at the restaurant. Grub Street spoke to him briefly today about how it all came off, and he says, “It was a lot of fun,” and adds that he was really touched to see how in the dishes created by his various protégés at Saturday and Sunday’s dinners, the marks of their time at Manresa showed up in each. “You could see each of their personalities in the dishes, but there was an underlying Manresa touch to everything. I thought that was really cool.”
He adds, “The idea was for them to do all the cooking,” but he was also in the kitchen each day and collaborated on a couple of dishes.
Joining Kinch for Saturday and Sunday were former chefs de cuisine Jeremy Fox, James Syhabout, and John Paul Carmona, along with pastry chef Belinda Leong and former sous chefs Marty Cattaneo, Michael Gaines, and Charlie Parker. He says that newly promoted chef de cuisine Jessica Largey really held her own with the gang, managing a bunch of personalities whom she’d never worked with before, and he really loved the amuse bouche she contributed as well.
But he admits he had a soft spot for the dish Fox created, which was a variation on the classic Manresa garden dish, and which Fox asked Kinch to collaborate on with him. He explains, “It was a bunch of leaves and herbs from the garden, but on the bottom of the plate we did this purée of fava beans and this South American herb that’s sort of like cilantro. Also, we took vegetables and confited them in duck fat and beef suet, chilled them and then cut them up in interesting shapes, and drizzled on top was this raw cream and green curry oil that was redolent with lime leaves. It appeared to be a vegan-like dish but it had this protein component from the cream and the animal fat. It turned out really well.”
Last Wednesday Kinch welcomed a good friend from L.A., Michael Cimarusti, to cook in the Manresa kitchen for the first time. Cimarusti also happened to be Largey’s original mentor, several years back when she worked at Providence. He and Kinch alternated courses on a seafood-focused menu that was seamless and seemed of a piece from a single restaurant and chef.
Then on Thursday he was cooking with John and Karen Shields, a pair of young chefs from Virginia who are opening a restaurant in Philadelphia and whom Kinch said he had a hunch would be great representations of the younger generation of chefs. “I’m happy to say my instincts were right,” he says, and he was wholly impressed with their food and the way the two worked collaboratively in the kitchen.
Friday was a dinner with a good friend, Carlo Mirarchi of Roberta’s in Brooklyn. “He’s a real talent and I’m always looking for an opportunity to cook with him. And this was a celebration, so I wanted to invite people like him who I was close with. We had a really fantastic time.”