David Kinch
The Pro. David Kinch.

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(Note: we’ve recut the video to include more opinion from Chef David Kinch about truffles. In addition, the previous version may have misled viewers into thinking David likes easting truffles after a long day in the kitchen, which is not true. Actually he told us in the interview he likes simple foods instead like “a great piece of bread that’s been toasted with a little bit of butter” or “a perfect tomato that’s been sliced with a little bit of olive oil and salt.” It helps bring him back to earth after a long night’s work. Thanks to Loni for catching the error in context. My editing is to blame. Look for a full version of the interview soon!)

David Kinch, chef and proprietor of Michelin two-star Manresa of Los Gatos, is in the zone. At the Napa Truffle Festival he plated a lobster dish that had all his signature elements including that pure garden-to-kitchen flavor that eschews dramatic sauces and unnecessary frills in favor of a pure dining experience. Think of it as classic film-making in a world of 3D.

At the Michelin Star Truffle Dinner held last night at La Toque in Napa, his dish was one of many standouts.

Other chefs that served up stellar creations included Ken Frank (La Toque), Sylvain Portay (Le Louis XV, Mix, Adour), Josiah Citrin (Mélisse), Gabriel Kreuther (The Modern), and Nacy Oakes (Boulevard). All told the all-star team of chefs hold 13 Michelin stars among them.

In what turned out to be the calm before the storm, David sat down with Loni at the Westin Verasa Hotel Bar in Napa to talk about truffles, and his dish. Below is a brief Stark Insider TV segment that should give you a taste of the well-oiled (and buttered) machine that it takes to serve a $330/plate dinner; servers whisk around with military precision, taking dishes out to the dining room, while David, sous chefs and others keep a mad assembly line of activity moving with beautiful rhythm.

It’s poetic, really, and it was an incredible thrill to watch (and capture in photos and on film).

I was amazed at the focus, the intensity. Kinch used tweezers and delicately plated while the kitchen rocked around him.

Reviewing the photos — from the second day of the Napa Truffle Festival — this lead photo of David really stood out. He had taken a moment to catch his breath (and perhaps also a swig of beer or a sip of wine) amidst the action, and he stood stationary looking down. Nancy Oakes of Boulevard can be seen over his shoulder. I don’t know why, but I really like this photo. For me, at least, it captures a wonderful moment in time on an evening that was culinary (and winer pairing) heaven.

Lobster with its Tomalley and Coral, Truffle with Walnut by David Kinch.
Lobster with its Tomalley and Coral, Truffle with Walnut by David Kinch.
Clinton Stark
Clinton shoots videos for Stark Insider. San Francisco Bay Area arts, Ingmar Bergman and French New Wave, and chasing the perfect home espresso shot 25 seconds at a time (and failing). Peloton: ClintTheMint. Camera: Video Gear