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Six Courses at the Fifth Floor, Plus an “Iron Chef” Champ

Monday night’s James Beard Foundation dinner at the swank Fifth Floor Restaurant in San Francisco featured a who’s who of chefs behind the burners: Laurent Manrique of the Aqua Development Corp. of San Francisco; Ariane Daguin of D’Artagnan Foods; Jean Pierre Moulle of Chez Panisse in Berkeley; Gerald Hirigoyen of Piperade and Bocadillos, both in San Francisco; and Jennie Lorenzo and Lionel Walter of the Fifth Floor.

But it was another chef who was merely a guest that night who received another big round of applause: David Kinch of Manresa in Los Gatos, whom everyone in attendance that night put their hands together to honor his triumphant victory the night before on the Food Network’s “Iron Chef America” show.

For those who missed the televised battle that was filmed months ago, Kinch trounced Iron Chef Bobby Flay by a whopping 10 points, mesmerizing the judges with his creative, elegant dishes spotlighting the secret ingredient of cabbage.

I think I was most struck by how cool, calm, and collected Kinch appeared to be in the hour-long battle that is filmed in one continuous shot. Kinch said he was nervous. But it certainly didn’t show.

Ever since it aired, the restaurant has been inundated with calls from diners who want to know if Kinch will recreate his “Battle Cabbage” dishes at a future dinner at Manresa. Kinch said he is weighing the possibility, so stay tuned about his decision.

Meantime, you can vicariously enjoy some of the dishes prepared Monday night to honor cookbook author Paula Wolfert:

(Ariane Daguin’s roasted foie gras with shallot confit and quince compote.)

(Jean Pierre Moulle’s Atlantic cod, oysters,and leek fondue.)

(Lionel Walter’s gateau basque traditionnel, and feuillantine de chocolate aux noisettes.)

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