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American chef David Kinch opened the doors of Manresa in Los Gatos, California 15 years ago. This week the charismatic, talented star of contemporary Californian cuisine came to France to celebrate the anniversary of his famous restaurant and traveled, like restaurant royalty, with toute la brigade.
Driven by his deep rooted affinity with French gastronomy, Kinch and his team crossed the Atlantic to cook/serve/schmooze in the kitchens of three sumptuous Relais & Chateaux restaurants: Le Taillevent, Paris; L’Oustau de Baumanière, Provence; and Le Petit Nice, Marseille. For the first stage of his gastronomic Tour de France, the American chef brought a touch of California Dreamin’ to the splendor of Taillevent, the famous restaurant housed in a Second Empire mansion, originally built in 1843 for the Duc de Morny.
David Kinch, Master Sommelier Jim Rollston, and Manresa’s General Manager, the adorable Jenny Yun, bonded with Le Taillevent resident chef Alain Solivérès to serve a series of outstanding dishes inspired by French produce infused with the sunshine of West Coast America.
Executive Chef Alain Solivérès (ex-Lucas Carton, L’Oustau de Baumanière, Le Negresco, Nice and Le Louis XV, Monte Carlo, etc.) and his brigade headed by Jean-Marie Ancher, Director of the Dining Room (at Taillevent since 1977) with head sommeliers Antoine Petrus and Stéphane Jan observed: “We’re in the middle of the porcini season, the first scallops are arriving and the game season’s just beginning. Hunted wild game is a major contributor to Taillevent’s menu; we can’t wait to share it, along with discovering Manresa’s choice of food and wine pairings”
Read, magnums of Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage 2006 for aperitif – followed with Chardonnay 2015, Santa Barbara, Au Bon Climat paired with Solivérès signature Spelt cooked as risotto, cèp mushrooms and abalone. Bouillabaisse “en gélée” hazelnuts and blue lobster married well with Puligny Montrachet 2010 from Domaine Laflaive. Duck from the Dombes region in two servings (breast and pastry wrapped) merited two excellent choices: Le Cigare Volant 2008, Santa Cruz Mountains, Bonny Doon and the deep purple Cornas, les Chailles 2010, Domaine Alain Voge. With dessert of Roasted Figs, sorrel and yogurt, the bold Mr K Nobleman 2002, Ventura, Sine Qua Non and Banyuls, Galateo 2015, Domaine de la Coume del Mas (as enjoyed by Presidents Obama and Hollande in 2015). For the road – a soupçon of dark, complex Cognac Hennessy XO – first bottled in 1870 by Maurice Hennessy for family and friends.
The result was a unique opportunity to discover the innovative cuisine David Kinch creates in his 68-seat Los Gatos (south of San Francisco) restaurant.
“Why have you chosen France as your base for celebrating the fifteenth anniversary of Manresa?” we ask.
“Even as a young cook, I was fascinated by its culture and its gastronomic traditions. I have always kept in contact with France through my travels, both professionally and privately. My life as a chef has taught me the importance of communicating the spirit of joie de vivre to our guests. I visit France regularly and delight/indulge in this culinary richness. It’s also a way of thanking my team by including them in this fantastic experience. I’ve been very lucky in my career – I’ve traveled widely and cooked in many places with many chefs. But to have the opportunity to do this in France, it doesn’t get any better! We are being welcomed in these kitchens not only to celebrate our similarities, but also our contrasts!” he smiled.
Need to Know:
Kinch graduated from Johnson & Whales College of Culinary Arts in 1981 and worked in New York City for several years. He then sharpened his knives with Marc Chevillot at Hotel de la Poste, Beaune. Two formative years of training at the now shuttered nouvelle cuisine Quilted Giraffe, Midtown Manhatten, then the launch of Fukuoka, Japan and posts as head chef at San Francisco’s Silks and later Ernie’s Restaurant. Add two years in Europe, at Schweizer Stuben, Germany, L’Esperance with Marc Meneau, Burgundy, France, and Pedro Subijana’s Akelarre, San Sebastien, Spain. Back in the USA, he opened Sent Sovi, Saratoga (1995), sold in 2001. Manresa opened in 2002 – the rest, as they say is history.
God Bless America – Vive La France!
Manresa, 320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030, Tel: (408) 354-4330. Website: www.manresarestaurant.com
Restaurant Le Taillevent, 15 rue Lammenais, 8th. Tel: 01 44 95 15 01. Website: www.taillevent.com
Lead photo credit : Chefs David Kinch & Alain Solivérès. Photo: David Morganti