Earlier this year, GQ critic Alan Richman took note that Manresa’s David Kinch was the “father of [the] emerging movement” in Bay Area food that Richman found to be the most vital in the country right now. He called Kinch’s food, “startling, local, Eurocentric, and revered,” and now GQ returns to Los Gatos and Santa Cruz’s Love Apple Farms to pen a glowing profile of the man and crown him the mag’s Chef of the Year. “David Kinch is an anomaly,” writes Charles Bowden, “A man who labors intensely, day after day, in a single restaurant and a single garden, quietly inventing a new kind of cooking and dazzling anyone lucky enough to sit at his table.” Bowden then struggles, as many have, to figure out what to call this new kind of cooking.
“The restaurant press says he is cooking New California Cuisine or he is cooking French or he is cooking Catalan or he is farm-to-table,” Bowden writes, but James Syhabout — who along with Jeremy Fox, Kim Alter, and others have worked with Kinch at Manresa — says, “Really, it’s hard for anyone who came out of his kitchen to classify ourselves as a certain cuisine.”
But regardless of what you call it, GQ seems most refreshed by the fact that Kinch is an iconoclast, still laboring at what he does best, in an age of franchising and celebrity chefdom. “He has only one restaurant and no plans to join the Food Network,” writes Bowden, and Kinch only leaves Los Gatos “to collect a James Beard Award or to go mano a mano on Iron Chef America.” Also, we learn that Kinch was teenage friends with Wynton Marsalis back in New Orleans, who says of his friend, “David isn’t about that bullshit. He is so completely, absolutely real on every single level.”
In any event, after all the national-magazine love this year and last year’s James Beard prize for Best Chef in the Pacific region, it seems Kinch’s wider notoriety has finally caught up with his local legend.
GQ’s Chef of the Year: David Kinch [GQ]
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