Ask a Chef: Quickfire Questions for David Kinch

James Beard Award winner David Kinch

Winner of the 2010 JBF Best Chef: Pacific award, David Kinch has garnered national attention for his singular, terroir-focused American cuisine at Manresa. Deeply committed to sustainable agriculture, Kinch exclusively sources the restaurant’s vegetables from a biodynamic farm in the nearby Santa Cruz Mountains.


1. Organic or biodynamic?
Biodynamic. A lot of people make fun of the hocus-pocus and cosmic elements of biodynamic, but you know, God is in the details. Biodynamic farming forces you to pay attention in much greater detail, and how can you not benefit from that in the long run?

2. Japan or France?
Japan. I think the way France was 20 years ago and Spain was 10 years ago and the Nordic countries are now, Japan is going to be the future. It was a closed door, but people are opening up to it. And as more and more people travel there, they will be amazed at how Japan comes up to the gastronomic stage—beyond the clichés. Of course I have to say that I think Northern California’s time is now, too. We are about ready to explode here.

3. Pancakes or omelets?
Omelets.

4. Butter or olive oil?
That’s the toughest one yet. That is a true toss-up. There are reasons for each. In California we have a tradition of making olive oil, so I’m a big fan of it. But I think a pat of homemade butter on a piece of fresh bread is one of the great taste sensations you can have.

5. Gin or vodka?
Gin. Absolutely.

6. Redzepi or Adrià?
Redzepi. I think his cuisine represents a naturalness. It just speaks much more to me because he works hard to reflect a sense of place, which is something we try very hard to do here at our restaurant.

7. We think we can predict this answer, but: foam or soil?
Soil. Soil. Soil.

8. Critics or bloggers?
Gosh, I think I would say critics, but with a caveat. I don’t follow blogs that much, but they’re mostly about food, not restaurant criticism. At least with certain critics that have a long track record, you can tell how your own palate calibrates to theirs, and so you can figure out what they think. That said, I’m sure there are some bloggers out there with whom you can do the same thing. For me, following blogs just takes a lot of time out of the day. I don’t read as many as I should.

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