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The Debut of Chef David Kinch’s “Manresa” Cookbook

Monday, 19. August 2013 5:26

Chef-Owner David Kinch of Manresa stands in front of a display of his new cookbook, hot off the presses.

Chef-Owner David Kinch of Manresa stands in front of a display of his new cookbook, hot off the presses.

 

David Kinch, the supremely gifted. Michelin two-starred chef-owner of Manresa in Los Gatos, has wanted to do a cookbook for more than seven years.

But the timing was never right.

Until now.

His first cookbook, “Manresa” (Ten Speed Press), will debut Oct. 22.

Like all that he does, it was meticulously thought out beforehand. So much so that the concept and artistic look were nearly fully formed already when he finally sat down to commit to doing it.

The book was 14 months in the making, but years in the thinking.

The book was 14 months in the making, but years in the thinking.

For instance, the measurements for the ingredients in the recipes are listed first and foremost in metric weights with imperial quantities following in parenthesis. That’s because that’s the way that chefs cook for greatest efficiency and precision.

Kinch spent 14 months crafting the book, which focuses on dishes served at the restaurant over its past 13 years. Almost all of the gorgeous photos in the book were taken in the Manresa dining room, with photo shoots once a month of a dozen dishes each time.

The result is a stunning book that’s quite personal, too, with stories about how Kinch took the advice of Thomas Keller of the French Laundry to buy the building he opened Manresa in, rather than just lease it, in order to cement a future there. Kinch also writes about how his relationships began with Love Apple Farms, which supplies exclusively to Manresa, and hobbyist farmer Gene Lester, a retired IBM engineer who now grows some of the most illustrious citrus around that’s spotlighted in a multi-course dinner each year at the restaurant.

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Take Five with Will Pacio, On His Journey from Stanford University to Per Se to the French Laundry and Finally to Spice Kit

Wednesday, 29. August 2012 5:25

Chef-Restaurateur Will Pacio of Spice Kit. (Photo courtesy of Will Pacio)

When Will Pacio was studying for his bachelor’s degree in psychology at Stanford University, little did he know he’d be returning to Palo Alto a decade later – not as a doctor, as he first imagined, but as a seasoned restaurateur who has since cooked for the likes of Thomas Keller.

The fact that Pacio used to doodle images of pork buns in his notebooks during his morning biology class, though, no doubt helped clue him into what his true passion was.

Peninsula diners are all the better for it, too, as Pacio’s second fast-casual Spice Kit restaurant opened on California Avenue earlier this month, serving up pillowy, steamed pork belly buns, spicy ssam rolls and Vietnamese-style short-rib baguette sandwiches.

It’s a similar menu to his first Spice Kit, which opened two years ago in San Francisco. But the Palo Alto locale also features a kids’ menu and outstanding vegetarian buns stuffed with shiitakes, cucumbers and crushed peanuts.

Pacio, who worked at Keller’s Per Se in New York and French Laundry in Yountville, founded Spice Kit with business partner, Chef Fred Tang, formerly of the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco.

The famous pork buns at Spice Kit. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

The fabulous veggie buns at the Palo Alto locale. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

I had a chance to sit down with the 32-year-old Pacio to talk about how sheer tenacity landed him the job at Per Se, his nerve-wracking experience cooking for Keller for the first time, and what his doctor-father thought about him turning his back on med school.

Q. How in the world did you go from wanting to become a doctor to wanting to become a chef?

A. It was a year after graduation, when I was working as a researcher at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Palo Alto and applying to medical schools. My roommate (Stephen Chau, another Stanford graduate, who went on to invent Street View at Google) was working at Goldman Sachs, so he was never home.

We lived behind the Menlo Park Left Bank restaurant. So, one day, I just knocked on the back door and asked Chef Christopher Floyd if I could work for free. The next thing I knew, I was working there for three months, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., chopping lots and lots of onions. Probably 100 pounds at a time. I shucked a lot of oysters, too. Then, later, I was allowed to do plated desserts.

In college, we’d eat out a lot. In my junior year, nine friends and I went to the Fifth Floor in San Francisco. It was when Laurent Gras was still the chef. I think it was my first fine dining experience. It was the first time I had foie gras. We had no credit cards. So, I just remember this stack of $2,000 in bills sitting on the table afterward.

I had friends in New York, so I’d go visit them. I ate at Daniel and Blue Ribbon. All the money I was making was going to food and eating out. Soon, I started wondering how to make some of the things I was eating.

Q: Your father is a doctor. One of your sisters is a doctor. You were supposed to be a doctor. What was it like telling your parents that you wanted to be a chef?

A: It was a brutal conversation. There was a lot of yelling. There was a lot of ‘No way!’ and ‘No how!’

I’d already applied to the French Culinary Institute in New York when I told them. So, I told my parents I’d go to culinary school and then get an MBA. That’s how I sold it to them. But, of course, I never did get the MBA.

Q: How’d you go straight from culinary school to working with one of the best chefs in the world?

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