One of the Bay Area's six Michelin three-star restaurants, Manresa in Los Gatos, may be going away at the end of this year as executive chef and owner David Kinch has decided to step away and tend to his more casual businesses.
Kinch cites a number of factors in both a press release and an interview with Bloomberg, including the "back-breaking work" of running a fine-dining kitchen, the inability to adequately staff back up since the pandemic, and his own shifting interests. As he told the Chronicle four years ago, after opening a couple of more casual restaurants in Los Gatos — The Bywater and Manresa Bread — "I’m getting to be an old man. There's no more fine dining in me." Kinch, now 61, was 57 at the time.
Kinch says he is ready to "embark on the next phase of his culinary journey," and that includes operating the four locations he now has of the bread bakery, and Mentone, a restaurant in Aptos, closer to his Santa Cruz County home.
"A three-Michelin-starred restaurant requires nothing less than your best," Kinch says in the press release. “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."
He said he's looking forward to finding a "new equilibrium" that doesn't include a fine-dining kitchen.
Speaking to Bloomberg, Kinch also says that fine-dining restaurants at the three-star level are "transitioning really hard" after the pandemic, and he isn't interested in participating in the "slow decline of fine dining." Kinch also notes that pre-pandemic the restaurant was serving around 55 guests per night, and now it's around 40.
Kinch says he plans to work alongside Chef de Cuisine Nicholas Romero and Pastry Chef Courtney Moisant in the next four months at Manresa on a series of seasonal menus, and highlighting some old favorite dishes. His last night will be December 31, after which a rep for the restaurant suggests to the Chronicle, "Hopes are that the restaurant remains open." That will depend on finding a buyer who wants to continue Kinch's vision without him there.
Kinch opened Manresa 20 years ago, and in addition to earning two and then three Michelin stars, the restaurant has been a training ground for many local chefs, including Commis chef James Syhabout, Belinda Leong of b. patisserie and Routier, John Paul Carmona of Routier, Kim Alter of Nightbird, and Jeremy Fox of LA's Rustic Canyon.
Reservations at Manresa through November are currently available on Tock.