On the fourth floor of JWU Providence’s Cuisinart Center for Culinary Excellence, the kitchen is humming with singular intensity. David Kinch '81, '14 Hon., the James Beard Award-winning chef-owner of Manresa in Los Gatos, California, is leading a team of Johnson & Wales culinary students in the execution of an intricate 5-course menu.
This Epicurean Society dinner is a fundraiser for culinary scholarships at the university. Twice a year, donors gather to enjoy an exquisite meal orchestrated by an acclaimed chef-alum. The previous guest chef, Champe Speidel '00, '16 Hon., of Providence’s Persimmon, is in attendance with his wife, Lisa.
Students know this is a special night — a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to assist in what is, essentially, a Manresa pop-up. Kinch is joined in the kitchen by his Manresa chef de cuisine, Mitch Lienhard, who recently won the 2016 San Pellegrino Young Chef Award.
Kinch’s elegant menu melds land and sea, giving students the opportunity to work with such top-notch local seafood and shellfish as oysters, scallops and sea bream, which he serves raw, dressed in a shellfish mariniere and topped with sesame seeds, seaweed, and slender matchsticks of radish. Exquisitely marbled Wagyu beef is the fourth course, and it is served with a quintet of seasonal vegetables. Dessert brings rich chocolate to the finish.
It is a night the diners — and JWU student chef-assistants — will not soon forget.
“To watch him work and to even talk to him was such an honor, as he was truly genuine.” - GABRIELLE FEOLA
“One of the best moments of my life thus far. Working under direction from Chef Kinch on the pastry course was an amazing opportunity to show him how much I learned and how grateful I was for the opportunity to intern in the Manresa pastry department over the summer. I have such awe and admiration for Chef Kinch and Chef Lienhard, as well as Manresa pastry chefs Stephanie Prida and Courtney Weyl, and can’t thank them enough for everything they have taught me — the kindness and patience that they have shown me has helped me to become the eager chef I am today. This dinner was an opportunity to prove myself and make them proud, and I hope I did just that.” - CHRISTINA MARTIN
“It was amazing, very hands on. Speaking as someone who has worked with another 3-star chef [Christopher Kostow of Meadowood], they are very similar in a couple ways: A great leadership quality you cannot find in any other chef, and the fact that they care so much about the guest.” - DEVIN BOGDAN
photos by Mike Cohea and Peter Goldberg