After getting in from Sunday service, I had a short window of selfish time before my family’s weekly Walking Dead session. I settled in to watch the first of the David Kinch episodes of “Mind of a Chef.” It’s one of the few television shows I try to keep up with as these days my spare time is limited and devoted more to reading.
How can I begin to be objective about David Kinch, and about his restaurant Manresa? I came to know Manresa following the trail of Jeremy Fox after he left Charleston for the West Coast. I think the vegetable focused, micro seasonal approach of Manresa, along with its unique relationship with Love Apple Farms, played a pivotal role for Fox as he developed his own voice. A voice that would eventually earn him a Michelin star at Ubuntu, a vegetarian restaurant above a yoga studio in Napa. But I digress- more on this chef at another time…
Manresa’s cuisine is not only beautiful, but thoughtful. Every component is there because it needs to be there, period. Consider his dish “Into the Vegetable Garden.” It’s been on the menu for several years, but continues to evolve on a daily basis depending upon what walks in the kitchen door from Love Apple Farms. It was inspired by Michelle Bras’ “Gargouillou,” a composed salad dish that includes 50-60 components. (A dish that’s also been interpreted by the likes of Grant Achatz, Paul Virant and Daniel Patterson FYI.)
I greatly admire David Kinch from afar. His cuisine reflects time and place. He is transparent about his sourcing, inspiration and technique. He continues to lead, teach and inspire. After a fire very nearly claimed Manresa in 2014, David took the rebuild time to plan a bakery that these days is now crushing it. This year, the culinary community eagerly looks forward to his opening of The Bywater, a casual, New Orleans themed eatery with David Morgan, a chef from John Besh’s Restaurant August in NOLA. Kinch grew up in New Orleans, and counts 2 years spent at Commander’s Palace among the first of his jobs at 16, so in a way, The Bywater marks a return to his past. I know it will be delicious.
By now you see what I mean- it’s hard to be objective about David Kinch and his restaurant Manresa. In my estimation, the Manresa cookbook is one of a handful of essential
reads purchases of the past 5 years.
I’m looking forward to the rest of the season of Mind of a Chef.