David Kinch is the owner-chef of Manresa, a three-star Michelin restaurant in Los Gatos, California. Kinch took the entire crew for a one-of-a-kind collaboration with three legendary French chefs at their iconic restaurants in Paris, Provence, and Marseille. Rémi Anfosso;s new film, A Chef’s Voyage, now playing in Virtual Cinemas, follows this journey.
“This culinary documentary basks in sumptuous food shots, takes you behind the scenes into buzzing French kitchens and offers stunning scenes of differing French landscapes. But its true heart rests with the chef and his team who set out on an odyssey – packing underwear and abalone – to discover the love of creating and enjoying culinary creations.” – Bryan Alexander, USA Today
Kinch and his team are offering daily take-out meals with tempting menus for people living in the area. As a follow-up to Kinch’s Manresa: An Edible Reflection (2013) written with Christine Mulke, Kinch is finishing At Home in the Kitchen for release in March 2021. It is co-written by Devin Fuller with photos by Aya Brackett.
It features 120 recipes for the casual meals—from simple breakfasts to 2am snacks—that he cooks at home.
When David Kinch isn’t working at one of his four restaurants, he cooks in the salmon-colored bungalow–affectionately known as the Pink Palace–where he lives on the Northern California coast. A casual evening might include a game of limbo played with an old broom handle and dancing to Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” after digging into a rustic pasta made with cans from the pantry, or a simple roasted chicken, or too many oysters to count.
Here is an exclusive sneak preview of three delicious recipes from At Home in the Kitchen and David’s suggested music to play while cooking them. And below you will find a selection of videos of David cooking some of his favorites plus interviews.
Spicy Sesame Cucumber with Avocado
Serves 4 to 6
Listen to “La Llorona” by Chavela Vargas
I love, love, love this fragrant salad. I’ve done different takes on it throughout the years, but it dates back to being a young line cook in New York City. It’s a whimsical take on guacamole, which itself makes it worth a try. It’s fantastic alone or with chips, and even better when topped with sliced, marinated fish ceviche-style.
2 small English cucumbers
1 small red onion
1 large avocado, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
2 small jalapeños, seeded and finely minced
2 tablespoons black or white sesame seeds, toasted (see page X)
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil (cold-pressed preferred)
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
Trim off the ends of the cucumbers and halve them lengthwise, then cut the halves in half lengthwise once more. Scrape out the exposed seeds. Cut each quarter horizontally into 1/4-inch slices. In a colander, toss the cucumbers with a pinch of salt. Set the colander in your sink for 30 minutes. The salt will force the cucumbers to expel their excess water. Transfer the cucumbers to a paper towel to dry.
Meanwhile, halve the onion lengthwise, then slice each half horizontally into thin half-moons. Soak the slices in a bowl of ice water for 10 minutes to crisp them up and tone down their raw flavor. Transfer to a paper towel to dry.
In a medium bowl, stir together the avocado and cucumber. Add half of the red onion slices, the jalapeños, 1 tablespoon of the sesame seeds, and the sesame oil. Mash the ingredients with a fork, gently breaking up the avocado into a chunky paste. Be careful to not overdo it—some texture is essential to a pleasant guacamole.
Stir in the rice vinegar and season with salt to taste. Top with the remaining red onion and 1 tablespoon sesame seeds. Serve immediately.
Ratatouille, Hot or Cold, Poached Egg or Not
Serves 6 to 8
Listen to “Bra” by Cymande
This vegetable stew has been around for ages, yet feels as contemporary now as ever before. Though it’s usually served hot as an accompaniment to a main protein, I love ratatouille cold, topped with a poached egg. This dish can also be a refreshing main course in the summer when Provençal vegetables are at the height of seasonality.
I prefer to make this in a wide, heavy pot to allow for maximum evaporation and consolidation of flavor. Never let the stew sit on a boil; simmer it gently to allow the shape of the vegetables to maintain their integrity. The extra step of reducing the vegetable’s juices is well worth the added few minutes. If you have a big enough pot, double the recipe, as this keeps well for several days. In fact, this is one of those dishes that will taste better on the second day.
1 pound white onions, quartered
1 pound red bell peppers
1 pound zucchini
1 large globe eggplant
4 large tomatoes (Early Girl or Roma preferred), peeled (see page X)
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Espelette pepper or hot paprika
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (from about 4 sprigs)
1 teaspoon tomato paste (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 tablespoons chopped basil leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
Poached eggs (see page X) (optional)
For the vegetables to cook at a similar rate, they must be cut to about the same size. Using the quartered onions as a reference point, prepare the bell peppers. Discard their stems and seeds, cut in half lengthwise, then cut again lengthwise to match the size of the onions.
The same applies to the zucchini and eggplant. Discard the ends, cut in half lengthwise, and cut to match the size of the onions, leaving the seeds in. Set aside in separate piles, as you’ll cook them separately.
Cut the tomatoes in half horizontally. Squeeze their seeds out over the sink to discard and coarsely chop the remaining flesh. Set aside.
In a large pot on medium heat, combine the onions and 1/4 cup of the olive oil, and sauté, stirring occasionally, so they soften but don’t brown, about 10 minutes.
Add the bell peppers, garlic, a pinch of espelette pepper, and a large pinch of salt. Continue to cook until the bell peppers have softened. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
With the pot still on medium heat, stir together 1/4 cup of the olive oil and the eggplant. Cook, stirring occasionally until the eggplant begins to take on some color, about 2 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Return the onion and pepper mixture to the pot and stir in the tomatoes and thyme until combined.
At this point, the tomatoes will expel their water and the mixture will resemble a soup. Increase the heat until the liquid comes to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, then turn the heat to low and cover your pot, leaving a gap to allow steam to escape. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are cooked through but maintain their shape, 1 to 11/2 hours. Be careful to stir gently so as not to break up the vegetables.
Set a colander over a large bowl. Carefully dump the entire contents of the pot into the colander, reserving both the vegetables and their juices.
Return the juices to the pot. Stir in the tomato paste and turn the heat to high. Bring the liquid to a boil, stirring often, until it has a thick and syrupy texture, 3 to 5 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat and gently stir in the vegetables, parsley, basil, and the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil, being careful not to break up the vegetables. Add salt and black pepper to taste.
Serve immediately on its own or topped with a poached egg, or chill the ratatouille thoroughly in your refrigerator before serving. Stored in an airtight container, the stew will keep in your refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Bucatini with Canned Sardines & Capers
I can wax poetic about canned sardines. It all started when I was living on a beginning cook’s wage: a baguette, a big slab of butter, and a couple of sardines straight out of the can functioned as a meal on a regular basis. What started as a tartine of sustenance became an appreciation of the sardine’s cultural significance, its health benefits, and the ease of having them on hand at all times in my pantry. To me, sardines and butter is an eye-roll-to-the-back-of-the-head flavor. I won’t get into the cult of vintage sardines, and the connoisseurs who age certain brands like wine—often for years, to add a complexity of flavor. I’ll just say this: they’re a delicacy in a $2.00 can.
I developed this recipe after hearing a restaurateur describe a similar dish that his grandfather had made for him as a child on a boat in Liguria. It had stuck with him for all of these years: his greatest pasta memory of all. Here’s to the power of food.
6 tablespoons salt-packed capers
4 tablespoon dried bread crumbs
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 (3.75 ounces) cans sardines packed in olive oil, draineds
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
Red pepper flakes
Espelette pepper or hot paprika
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
12 ounces bucatini, bigoli, or spaghetti
In a fine-mesh strainer, rinse the capers with cold water, then soak them in a small bowl covered with cold water for 15 minutes to remove their salt. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a medium pan on low heat, stir together the bread crumbs and 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Stir frequently until the bread crumbs start to fry. Once they’ve taken on a golden brown color, 5 to 7 minutes, drain them in a fine-mesh strainer and spread onto a paper towel. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil on high heat. Once boiling, add salt to taste.
In a large bowl, combine the sardines, capers, garlic, a pinch of red pepper flakes, a pinch of espelette pepper, the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil, the lemon juice, and a healthy pinch of salt. Stir everything together, using a fork to coarsely break up the sardines.
Add the pasta to the pot and follow the instructions on the package to cook to al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, add 3 tablespoons of the pasta water to the sardine mixture and stir to combine.
Drain the pasta and vigorously stir it into the bowl with the sardine mixture. Be rather aggressive here to finish breaking up the sardines and coat the pasta evenly. The starch will emulsify the sauce and give it a creamy consistency.
Divide the pasta evenly among four bowls. Top each with the toasted bread crumbs and serve immediately.
A Chef’s Voyage is currently showing in Virtual Cinemas where you stream it at home and the “admission price” is shared between your favorite independent cinema and the filmmakers/distributors. Here is a list of presenting venues.
The film also benefits the support of ongoing restaurant workers relief programs, racial justice, restaurant reboot relief, and more. Learn about The Lee Initiative.
The film documents Kinch closing shop for a month to mark the 15th anniversary of Manresa, He and his staff embark on their France voyage. Planning the trip takes months; to represent the refined Californian cuisine of Manresa, the team must bring their own seasonings, sauces that take days to make, and lots of abalone. But the logistics are tricky: how to sneak the food on flights; unfamiliar host kitchens; a language barrier and more.
A Chef’s Voyage takes us behind the scenes as the Manresa crew attempts to stage nine major meals over 10 days in the world’s most cinematic venues, alongside culinary superstars, with the world watching (and tasting) – all to celebrate 15 years of Manresa excellence by doing what Chef Kinch and his team do best: creating meals and experiences worthy of those three stars.
“A Delicious Escape to France. It’s a feast, not just for the food shown in exquisite detail, but for the images of the countryside, the shore, and the streets and markets.” – Florence Fabricant, The New York Times
David Kinch, Chef/Owner of Manresa, has forged a distinctive culinary path putting him at the forefront of a contemporary California cuisine. Kinch’s driving force for his daily work remains the satisfaction he gets from cooking. “Very simply, I love doing this,” he says. “My great pleasure is people being incredibly happy with their experience at the restaurant.” Kinch’s culinary philosophy is fostered by the terroir, or the “sense of place” of the California Coast, and the kind of ingredient-driven cooking and modern technique he has studied around the world.
Manresa has received extensive accolades including Three Stars from the Michelin Guide, a Five Star Forbes Travel Award, and membership in prestigious organizations such as Relais & Chateaux and Les Grande Tables du Monde. In addition to Manresa, Kinch’s other projects include Manresa Bread, The Bywater, and his newest restaurant, Mentone.
He has received additional culinary recognition, including being named Best Chef Pacific by the James Beard Foundation in 2010, and his international peers voted him into the Top 25 of the World’s Best Chefs 2020 via Le Chef Magazine.
Kinch won an Emmy for his role on the PBS series The Mind of a Chef. His first cookbook, “Manresa: An Edible Reflection” landed on the New York Times “Best Sellers List” in 2013, and he has a second cookbook set to debut Spring 2021.
Although he was born in Philadelphia, Kinch was raised in New Orleans, a city with a rich and distinctive culinary history that had a lasting impact on him. His first job was in a restaurant kitchen at the age of 16 and from there he formally pursued a culinary career by enrolling at Johnson and Wales Culinary Academy in Providence, RI. “The only jobs I’ve ever had were in restaurants; I was fascinated by the culture of working in them,” he recalls. “I knew early on that I wanted to have my own restaurant.” After graduating, Kinch spent the next 15 years working his way up in the culinary world, completing stages at Michelin-starred restaurants in France, Germany, and Spain; working as a chef in New York; and as a consultant chef in Fukuoka, Japan. In 1993, he relocated to San Francisco and two years later opened Sent Sovi in Saratoga, CA. In 2002, he moved south to Los Gatos, buying the property that would become Manresa.
Read chef Joyce Goldstein’s review of A Chef’s Voyage.
Enjoy Cari Borja’s musings about David Kinch and the movie.
Things can change in an instant, as David Kinch discovered when he got a fateful call that his restaurant had burned nearly to the ground. He tells about this and shows his cooking methods and ideas on the PBS series Mind of a Chef. You can watch it here.
Many more videos with David Kinch from The Mind of a Chef
Community Storytelling host, Lissa Kreisler, and chef, David Kinch share stories, laughs, and a behind-the-scenes tour of Manresa: