David Kinch, the chef who helped establish Los Gatos, Calif., as an international culinary destination with his highly regarded restaurant Manresa, announced Monday that he would leave that business at the end of the year. Mr. Kinch, 61, could not be reached for comment, but a representative confirmed that, after 20 years, he plans to sell the business.
Before opening Manresa, which is known for its modern and technically dexterous California cuisine, Mr. Kinch ran a popular Saratoga bistro on what he called a shoestring budget. But looking up to chefs like Paul Bocuse and Alain Chapel, he aspired to the haute cuisine he had experienced and studied in other parts of the world.
Mr. Kinch didn’t plan to buy property in Los Gatos until after a meal at the French Laundry in 1998. In his 2013 cookbook, “Manresa: An Edible Reflection,” he tells the story of how that restaurant’s chef, Thomas Keller, convinced him that buying the property that housed the restaurant — as Mr. Keller had done in Yountville, Calif. — was the best way for chefs to ensure a stable future.
In Los Gatos, Mr. Kinch found a gutted and graffitied former restaurant and event space that had been vacant for years. He slowly transformed it into a restaurant that won three Michelin stars. A generation of chefs have worked there, including Avery Ruzicka, who went on to found the restaurant’s sister business Manresa Bread.
Manresa is particularly well known for its involved kitchen-farm partnership with Love Apple Farms — the farm’s rhythms informing the menus, the menus shaping the farm’s seasonal plans — though that partnership ended in 2016.
Some restaurants pop open bottles of Champagne for their 15th anniversary, but in 2017, Mr. Kinch closed Manresa for a month so he could travel with his kitchen staff through France and pop up in some of the country’s great kitchens, including Le Taillevent in Paris, Le Petit Nice in Marseille and L’Oustau de Baumanière in Les Baux-de-Provence.
The French director Rémi Anfosso documented the trip in his film “A Chef’s Voyage,” which chronicles some of Mr. Kinch’s early influences and offers a glimpse into the culinary education that a certain kind of French-inspired haute cuisine once demanded. Glamorous, yes, but exacting, severe and costly.
“This is backbreaking work that demands you show up at your fullest every day, no excuses,” Mr. Kinch said in a statement about his departure.
He plans to cook with his chef de cuisine, Nicolas Romero, and the restaurant’s pastry chef, Courtney Moisant, until Dec. 31. After that, Mr. Kinch will remain involved with his more casual restaurants: the Bywater, Mentone and Manresa Bread.