Manresa chef David Kinch is leaving the restaurant at the end of the year and fielding offers for the sale of the business and Los Gatos property. (Photo by Chris Schmauch)
The chef behind one of the most renowned local fine-dining restaurants, David Kinch of the three-Michelin-starred Manresa in Los Gatos, announced in a surprise statement Monday morning that he is leaving his post at the end of 2022 to renew his focus on his more casual Bay Area establishments.
The news of Kinch’s Dec. 31 departure comes a month after the restaurant celebrated its 20th anniversary with special tasting menus and a dinner collaboration with the highly acclaimed French chef Anne Sophie-Pic. Manresa is now planning a series of seasonal menus highlighting new dishes and classics from the past two decades leading up to the end of the year.
“I fell in love with cooking, restaurant culture, and the art of hospitality growing up in New Orleans,” Kinch said in the statement. “From that point forward, I set my sights on creating a home in this industry, and it has been my sole focus ever since—often at the expense of cultivating other aspects of my life, both professional and personal. For the past 20 years, Manresa has essentially been my whole life. And like all passion projects, it has been more challenging and more rewarding than I could have imagined.
“A three-Michelin-starred restaurant requires nothing less than your best,” he continued. “One could always find me in the kitchen as I prided myself on and loved being a working Chef, with our team, behind the stoves. This is back-breaking work that demands you show up at your fullest every day, no excuses. Starting January 1, I hope to establish a new equilibrium, to focus on the next exciting chapter of my life. I’m looking forward to dedicating my professional efforts on The Bywater, Mentone, and Manresa Bread, and having the time and freedom to explore some exciting new pursuits, and revisit long-neglected passions.”
Kinch added that he will be fielding offers for the business and the property at 320 Village Lane in Los Gatos, leaving the future of the landmark restaurant uncertain beyond 2022 as the Peninsula fine-dining scene continues to shift following the onset of the pandemic. He could not immediately be reached for an interview due to travel.
David Kinch’s departure to focus on his more casual restaurants follows a trend among Peninsula fine-dining establishments from the onset of the pandemic to shift toward casual. (Photo by Marc Fiorito)
Kinch’s departure to focus on his more casual restaurants follows a trend among Peninsula fine-dining establishments and chefs to shift toward casual. Palo Alto’s Baumé forfeited two Michelin stars and pivoted to the more relaxed Bistronomie by Baumé earlier this year, and Rasa in Burlingame gave up a Michelin star to reopen as the more casual concept Saffron in June. Both Saffron chef Ajay Walia and Bistronomie by Baumé chef Bruno Chemel expressed in interviews with the Peninsula Foodist that the luxury and demands affiliated with a Michelin-starred restaurant no longer fit for them, adding that pandemic pressures such as cost hikes also factored into their decisions.
Manresa was among several Peninsula fine-dining restaurants that offered takeout early on in the pandemic, providing patrons with a takeout menu for over a year. Manresa typically offers a nightly seasonal tasting menu priced at $325 to $425 a person.
“A lot of our (takeout) menus weren’t expensive menus, they were everyday menus for everybody on a Tuesday or Thursday — not just a special occasion,” Kinch told the Peninsula Foodist in December 2021. “I think people appreciated that. People were coming on a regular basis.”
Asked at the time about the future of fine dining given the upheaval caused by COVID, Kinch said, “I think that what fine dining is truly all about is to offer a truly stellar experience. Fine dining is not going to go away. There’s always going to be people who demand this type of experience, but there are things that are going to have to change. We’re starting to see that now. There’s a certain degree of casualness coming into it, and a little bit more flexibility with people’s dietary concerns.”
Manresa also experienced adversity pre-pandemic, closing temporarily twice in four years after fires in 2014 and 2018.
Despite the setbacks the restaurant has received a lengthy list of accolades and awards, making it a fine-dining destination for locals and visitors alike. Manresa has received three Michelin stars for six consecutive years, and Kinch has been named James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef: Pacific and was recognized by Le Chef as one of the top 10 chefs worldwide.
The Manresa name branched out in recent years as Avery Ruzicka, who took a job at Manresa as a food runner to get her foot in the door before becoming head baker after a year, launched the first spinoff bakery Manresa Bread in Los Gatos in 2015. The eatery took off and has since expanded to Los Altos, Campbell and Palo Alto.
Manresa reservations are available through the end of November on Tock, with December spots coming soon.
Manresa, 320 Village Lane, Los Gatos; 408-354-4330. Instagram: @manresarestaurant.