Manresa: An Edible Reflection

More Cookbooks for Under the Tree

by David Kinch with Christine Muhlke
Ten Speed Press, 336 pp., $50

"When you find something you love to do, then Work can become the highest form of Play." – David Kinch

Usually, I'm not a fan of ponderous coffee-table food tomes written by chefs and full of multilayered recipes almost impossible to pull off in the average kitchen by the average cook. Nonetheless, I'm so impressed by Manresa – one of the most beautiful books I've seen in years. And it completely captures the spirit and soul of the Northern California restaurant of the same name (where I've had two of the premier dining experiences of my career). The book is a drop-dead gorgeous amalgam of thoughtful words by David Kinch, breathtaking photos by Eric Wolfinger, and lovely, gentle prints of the surrounding region by artist Tom Killion.

After apprenticing in fine-dining kitchens in New Orleans, New York, and Europe, Kinch opened Manresa in 2002 in Los Gatos, at the cusp of Monterey Bay and the mountains of Santa Cruz. In 2006, he partnered with biodynamic farmer Cynthia Sandberg of nearby Love Apple Farms; the resulting farm/restaurant ecosystem embodies the region and elevates the farm-to-table concept to dizzy heights.

Kinch not only is dedicated to unusual but successful marriages of flavors, textures, and ingredients, he's perfected the art of artless presentations, reflected in the astonishing photographs. But beyond gazing at dreamy visuals and reading the chef's prose, can a person actually prepare these recipes? Not beginners, certainly, but the answer is "yes" for those with kitchen experience, dedication to detail, and access to fresh farm and sea ingredients (and a kitchen scale). For example, one of the restaurant's seasonal stalwarts, strawberry gazpacho with fig leaf curd, is relatively easy to achieve, even if you can't quite reproduce the presentation with cucumber blossoms and baby onions.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

MORE cookbooks
Santa's Big Cookbook Bag
Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey: Recipes From My Three Favorite Food Groups and Then Some

Virginia B. Wood, Dec. 6, 2013

Santa's Big Cookbook Bag
Pok Pok: Food and Stories From the Streets, Homes, and Roadside Restaurants of Thailand

Mick Vann, Dec. 6, 2013

More Food Reviews
Restaurant Review: Mexta
Restaurant Review: Mexta
Mexta wants to be Austin’s new upscale Mexican dining destination

Melanie Haupt, July 5, 2024

The Strip Club: Northgate Shopping Center
The Strip Club: Northgate Shopping Center
Getting bossed around by meat, and liking it

Taylor Holland, June 28, 2024

More by MM Pack
There and Back Again
There and Back Again
NYC chef Tien Ho returns to Austin

April 1, 2016

Speaking Volumes
Speaking Volumes
The secret history of Austin's First Cookbook

March 6, 2015


Gift Guide 2013, Manresa: An Edible Reflection, David Kinch, Christine Muhlke

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle