Travel is a great source of inspiration for David Kinch who is back in the United States after his trip to France where he was the first of 10 guest chefs to cook at Mirazur in celebration of Mauro Colagreco’s restaurants’ 10 year anniversary.
“In recent years, I had the opportunity to travel a lot. This has meant not only having the opportunity to eat in the restaurants of my peers but also to get a grasp of the culinary culture of the places I visited. When you travel somewhere for a long way, you suffer from jet lag, you wake up very early in the morning because you cannot sleep. What better opportunity then to go and check out the early morning markets? For me the markets tell you almost everything you need to know about a town or city you are visiting, the ingredients, the people who are shopping for them, the seasonality. It tells you many different things. If you have to create a menu, most of the work will be done with a visit to the market,” Kinch told Food and Wine Gazette.
Manresa earned 3-Michelin stars for 2016 and held two Michelin stars for nine consecutive years prior. The restaurant also became part of the Relais & Chateaux family in 2016. Kinch has forged a distinctive culinary path putting him at the forefront of new contemporary California cuisine. His philosophy is fostered by the terroir, or “sense of place” of the California Coast, and the kind of ingredient-driven cooking and modern technique he studied around the world. He finds inspiration from European traditions, American ingenuity, Japanese refinement, and the vast bounty of exceptional products California offers. Kinch said he was honoured to be sharing Manresa’s cuisine in Menton, France.
“The dinner went very well. I I have known Mauro for nearly 10 years. I met him for the first time in Toulouse in 2007 cooking at an event and went to his restaurant. I have been at his restaurant around 6 times over 10 years and I have seen an evolution . His cooking and his restaurant has got progressively better in my opinion with each visit. You cannot say that about a lot of restaurants. He has progressively got better, together with his team. This was the third time I cooked in his restaurant. Mauro has also cooked at Manresa on three occasions,” Kinch said.
The US chef said that he knew the kitchen very well. Moreover, during Mirazur’s season closure, the chef de cuisine of Mirazur was at Manresa for a couple of months. “He was in the kitchen waiting for us when we arrived so there was a real synergy,” Kinch said.
“We were on the same page and we created an ambitious menu with 12 dishes for the dinner. Since we were coming from America, we could not bring many things with us. We had to rely on the team and the produce we found along the cote d’azur. The dinner went very well, we had a full house and the guests seemed really happy as well,”
Kinch says that there is a strong connection between California and the Cote d’Azur because there is a strong connection relating to top quality products. “I have talked a lot with Mauro about the strong similarities between the Cote d’Azur and the coast close to California where I am based. It has a Mediterranean climate and is very temperate all year round. The meat and fruits are very similar. I just wish I had the Mediterranean sea as my view instead of the Pacific Ocean,” Kinch said.
Kinch said he has been very lucky to do what he does for a living and the success of the restaurant has given him the opportunity to travel and visit many places and make friends with some really great people and chefs. “This is a great source of inspiration for me. I like seeing the world and seeing many different places but I have a real affinity for France. France might not be trendy, some people say it is boring but I tell you when I go, there is always great food, great wine, great conviviality. I just love it there. France still has it going on. That is subjective, it is a personal preference. The level of execution in France is always very very high.”
Mauro and David shopped at the the Ventimiglia market just over the border in Italy. “For me, it was about the camaraderie, the friendship and celebrating with Mauro who is a very close friend. We have grown together as chefs and restauranteurs. Mauro is one of the few chefs who can ask me anything and I will do it. For me it was a real honour to celebrate with him and his team.”
The US chef said he does not travel as much as he used to before. “I try not to travel during the summer months. It is the time that I concentrate most on the restaurant, becoming intimate with my team and carrying out the menu planning. Also, the spirit of collaboration 10 years ago was much more special. Nowadays, I find that so many people are doing 2, 4 or 6 hands dinner that it has lost its specialness. We also cook better in our kitchens, with the produce we are used to and with our teams. So it is very hard to create the qualitative experience that we are creating in our own homes. For me that is a bit of an issue.
Kinch said that they could still do a good job but its also a question of reputation since people have high expectations so when you travel you are taking a risk because there are many factors which you cannot control. “For me control is more important than it has ever been. It is, however, easy to go to Mirazur because I know Mauro, I know his team, his restaurant and the quality of the produce. That’s an easy one for me. But ultimately, I find myself saying no much more than I say yes,” Manresa’s chef told Food and Wine Gazette.