The legendary chef Gray Kunz, whose restaurant Lespinasse was one of the New York’s most influential fine-dining destinations, has died. He was 65. The news, which started circulating on social media, was confirmed by Swire Hotels, a company with which Kunz ran restaurants abroad. The cause of death was stroke, the New York Times reports. He is survived by his wife Nicole, their children Julie and Jimmy, and his brother Kevin.
Kunz became famous as the exacting, creative culinary mind behind Lespinasse in the ’90s, a restaurant that was a farm system for top New York chefs. Andrew Carmellini, Floyd Cardoz, Rocco DiSpirito, Corey Lee, and others worked under him there, and the restaurant is still talked about 17 years after it closed.
Kunz would go on to open Café Gray in Manhattan before closing it in 2008, as well as restaurants in Hong Kong and Shanghai. He returned to New York State in 2016 when he opened Salt & Char, a steakhouse in Saratoga, telling Grub then, “If Americans don’t go back to the steakhouse sooner or later, then we’re not doing a good job.” The chef also contributed to the broader culinary world with his Gray Kunz spoon, which we called “perhaps one of the most underrated and universally used pieces of cooking equipment deployed by professionals.”
Remembrances have been flooding social media:
This post has been updated with additional information about Kunz’s cause of death and family.