Manresa has long been recognized as one of the best restaurants in the San Francisco area, if not the country: it holds two Michelin stars and was ranked the 69th best restaurant in the world by Restaurant Magazine. But Kinch himself has often evaded the spotlight -- StarChefs describes him as a "chef's chef." He doesn't have the name recognition of some other recent Chef of the Year honorees, like 2007's David Chang and this year's pick in the UK, Heston Blumenthal.
But what Kinch lacks in public fame, he makes up for in technical and creative acumen in the kitchen, if GQ writer Charles Bowden's Chef of the Year profile of him is to be believed. His chef friends, in particular, wax rhapsodic over his chops:
The restaurant press says he is cooking New California Cuisine or he is cooking French or he is cooking Catalan or he is farm-to-table. His fellow chefs aren't as hung up. They say, simply, he is "out of this planet" (Eric Ripert of Michelin three-star Le Bernardin in New York) and he has "the most beautiful hand in the States" (Alain Passard of three-star L'Arpege in Paris).
Another factor working in Kinch's favor when it comes to his Chef of the Year credentials is some recent changes at Manresa -- the most notable being the construction of a stunningly beautiful farm to supply much of the produce used in the kitchen.
Last year, American GQ did not include a chef in its Man of the Year issue, making 2009's Jose Andres the last recipient of the award.