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Nick Vasilopoulos

The California Questionnaire: David Kinch

The California Questionnaire: David Kinch
The renowned chef/proprietor of Manresa cherishes the Golden State’s bounty and beauty

Superlatives tend to swarm around David Kinch. His signature restaurant, Manresa, earned its third Michelin star in 2016 and first made San Pellegrino’s “Top 50 Restaurants in the World” list in 2012. Bon Appetit called Manresa one of the “20 Most Important Restaurants in America” and GQ named Kinch its Chef of the Year in 2011. He also has James Beard honours on his resume and a 2013 cookbook, Manresa: An Edible Reflection, that made the New York Times bestseller list.

Why all the accolades? Because Kinch’s distinctive take on contemporary California cuisine incorporates European technique and traditions, American ingenuity, and a huge focus on California’s bounty. Located in Los Gatos, just southeast of San Jose, Manresa embraces the notion of terroir—giving diners a sense of place that is inextricably linked to the seafood, vegetables, and wine produced in the area.

If you’re not in the market for an over-the-top culinary experience, Kinch also operates The Bywater, a casual restaurant inspired by New Orleans culture, and Manresa Bread, an artisanal bakery—both in Los Gatos.

Where do you live? I live in Santa Cruz.

Why there? Because it’s a coastal town, and it’s small. On my days off I can park and walk or ride my bike. It’s a college town. It’s a surfing town. What’s great about it is that the Santa Cruz Mountains separate Santa Cruz from Los Gatos, so I have a really nice differentiating line between my professional and personal lives. I climb the hill at Summits, which is about 2,000 feet above sea level, and I slowly feel my personal life melting away. As I descend into Los Gatos I enter my professional life—and vice versa. To me, it’s a great sense of balance that allows me to continue to do what I love but also enjoy my time away from the restaurant.

[Plus,] my first job in California was working at Mount Eden Vineyards. I’m a great lover of wine and you will always find me making the argument that the Santa Cruz Mountains make the best red, and the best white, in the state of California.

Who or what is your greatest California love? My answer to that is the most boring answer of all: the weather. Growing up on the East Coast and then spending a good part of my life in New Orleans, I count my blessings in January, February, and March out here in California. When I’m playing golf or going to the beach, everyone else is going through wintertime. California has made me soft.

What is the biggest misperception about Californians? That we’re all surfers.

What is the stereotype that most holds true? That we’re all surfers.

What is your favourite Golden State splurge? That is a tough one. I like exploring. For me it’s always finding a new place to stay overnight, a new restaurant. The state is so big and there are so many different landscapes, so many different places you can go to find unique and interesting personality-laden places. That whole act of exploration is what I like the best. I will go pretty much anywhere. I love exploring the coast—I will go north or south. I have a great time visiting friends in Marin County and exploring the Sonoma Coast.

Time for a road trip—where are you going? Big Sur. Taking the slow road down, maybe stopping for lunch in Carmel, and going down and spending the night where you can hike, you can surf. There are a couple of really funky places to eat down there. It’s always invigorating, and the drive itself is really inspiring. It’s just a perfect piece of coastline. One of my favourite things to do is take people who are visiting the United States [down there]. They are always blown away.

If you could decree an official state culinary experience, what would it be? It would have to be grilling—cooking over a barbecue or on a grill outdoors. Partly because the weather is so fantastic, but there’s a lot of great products that lend themselves really well to the grill—salmon and all the different fish that come out of the Pacific, and of course we are the nation’s garden with all the vegetables that we have. To me, the official culinary experience would be grilling, watching the sun going down, and drinking a bottle of great California wine.

Best California song? “California Soul,” by Marlena Shaw. It’s easy to sing along to and it always makes you move. Do you know it? Find it. It’ll become part of your playlist, I assure you.

How would your California dream day unfold? First of all, I’m not working. I’m waking up, I’m walking downtown to my favourite coffee shop in Santa Cruz, and then I’m going to the beach. I’m either on the beach, on a surfboard, on a stand-up paddleboard, or on a sailboat. I’m outdoors, I’m feeling the wind, I’m feeling the sun. I come back in and if I have a little bit more time in the day I’ll visit a bookstore or a record store. I will invite friends over to watch the sunset on my porch while having a cocktail. I’ll grill and eat and share the experience with family and friends. I’ll drink some great California wine. And then I’ll go upstairs to sleep…so I can wake up and do it all over again.


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Northern California

Discover the San Francisco Bay Area

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A crimson bridge, cable cars, a sparkling bay, and streets lined with elegant Victorian homes—San Francisco is undeniably one of the world’s great cities. Located along the Northern California at the state’s distinctive bend in the coast, the region has an alluring magic that stretches beyond the bay to diverse cities with nightlife and trend-setting cuisine. 

"I left my heart in San Francisco, High on a hill, it calls to me."  –singer Tony Bennett

The Bay Area is also home to some of the world’s finest wine country, including Napa Valley and Sonoma, plus waterfront towns, dramatic beaches, and the tech-savvy southern end of the bay known as the Silicon Valley, where lunchtime ideas at Google, Facebook, and Apple, turn into the next brilliant innovation. 

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Spotlight: Napa Valley

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Explore ultimate wine country luxury in the land where Cabernet is king

Napa Valley reigns as the land of grand estates, expansive tasting rooms, quaint towns, and elegant lodgings, many of which edge up to the...

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Spotlight: Sonoma County

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Escape to wine country with secret vineyards, cozy inns, and rich history

Spanning more than one million acres from the Pacific Ocean to the rugged Coast Range, this slice of wine-country bliss defies typecasting. Yes,...

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San Francisco's cable cars are the only mobile National Monuments.
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Golden Gate Bridge

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See one of the world’s most famous landmarks, spanning an elegant bay

With towers soaring 746 feet into the sky, its span arcing across the mouth of San Francisco Bay, and all of it painted bright red-orange, the...

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Spotlight: Berkeley

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See a stunning museum, shop, and feast in the Bay Area’s most outspoken city

Haven for backyard artists and coffee-shop philosophers, Berkeley has deep roots in the Flower Power movement of the 1960s and ’70s. But while...

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Raise a glass to BottleRock Napa Valley, the three-day music and culinary event where rock ‘n’ roll shares the bill with the best in regional food and wine. Choose between artists performing on...

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San Francisco has only one drawback - 'tis hard to leave.
Rudyard Kipling
Taste the delicious dishes from these amazing California chefs

From a pastel coloured pastry shop to Michelin-starred dining rooms, top restaurants run by celebrity chefs dot the Golden State. And even if you don’t know these chefs from the TV...

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Kid-friendly fun zones, special kids' menus & amazing wine for the grownups

Sure wine country is romantic, but now it’s a surprisingly great destination for families too, with a growing number of vineyards trading in elegant tasting rooms for child-friendly fun zones that...

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Get the Spanish spirit at this colourful event. Stroll the grounds of Gloria Ferrer Caves and Vineyards with a glass of bubbly, and take in a whirl of passionate music, flamenco dancing and food....

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Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards
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World-class accommodations in world-class locations

Head to the heart of California’s cities for luxurious stays at world-class hotels and resorts. From San Francisco’s historic hotels to celebrity hot spots in Hollywood and Beverly Hills,...

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San Francisco itself is art, above all literary art. Every block is a short story, every hill a novel. Every home a poem, every dweller within immortal. That is the whole truth.
William Saroyan
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Trip 8-10 days 10 stops

Ultimate Northern California

Explore the best of Northern California's Great Outdoors
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It may measure less than 50 square miles, but San Francisco justly ranks as one of the greatest cities in the world. Famous for grand dame Victorian homes, classic cable cars, dynamic diversity, a beautiful waterfront and a soaring crimson bridge, the  'City by the Bay' is the perfect place to...

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Tucked into an ocean-facing fold of Mount Tamalpais, the signature peak just north of the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County, Muir Woods National Monument protects the last stand of uncut old-growth coast redwoods in the Bay Area, where loggers had all but denuded the region by the late 1800s....

Farm-fresh produce, culinary adventures

Juicy heirloom tomatoes and just-picked strawberries. Super-sweet peaches shaped like mini UFOs. Artisan cheeses, emerald-green olive oils, local wildflower honey—California’s farmers’ markets are...

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From Gold Rush history to 8th wonders of the world, visit these favorites

If there was ever a box of chocolates—and all of them delicious—it’s the rich collection of natural treasures, fascinating...

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Make memories at some of California's family-favorite beaches

Sand, water, and children-it’s a natural combination for easy family fun. These sandy beaches offer appealing, family friendly features, such as calm water for new swimmers, tide pools for...

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It's simply a very romantic place. Just one look at any of those streets, and you couldn't be anywhere else -- it's so beautiful, and there's that location, and the sense of the free spirit. ... Who couldn't become ravenous in such a place?
Julia Child
Sample ultra-fresh, hyper-local, and downright amazing

When you come to California, come hungry. This is a state that really knows how to cook. Amazing and innovative chefs sprinkled with Michelin stars work with local farms and artisanal food...

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Old-fashioned fun in the Golden State

Historic oceanfront playgrounds, classic city park charmers and boisterous adventures - smaller theme parks and attractions offer an array of ways to play. These smaller parks offer...

Safari West
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According to legend, Winchester Mystery House's maze of passages and building oddities were designed to confuse the ghosts of those killed by Winchester rifles.
Kids get an inside look at wildlife, space, and more

From cool ways for your children to learn about wildlife, to an insider’s look at a space station, to a chance to walk through a rain forest or learn about the night sky, there’s a...

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Trip 3-5 days 10 stops

San Francisco Bay Loop

Discover this something-for-everything loop tour around an iconic bay
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Start your trip with a visit to one of the most iconic spans in the world. With towers soaring 746 feet into the sky, its span arcing across the mouth of San Francisco Bay, and all of it painted fire engine red, the Golden Gate Bridge makes a dramatic destination, and a great way to begin a tour...

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End your road trip by exploring one of the world’s great cities. Famous for grand dame Victorian buildings, classic cable cars, dynamic diversity, a beautiful waterfront and a soaring crimson bridge, the 'City by the Bay' truly has it all. Trend defining cuisine ranging from Michelin...

Check these amazing experiences off your bucket list

Kiss a beluga, see cool movie props, and learn about Walt’s secret hideaway on exclusive and behind the scenes tours at California’s theme parks and attractions. Here’s a roundup of actvities...

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Photo by Michael Saechang/Flickr
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Ranches, vineyards, and relaxed appeal east of San Francisco

With warm sun and wide open spaces cradling vineyards, ranches, and wine country estates, the Livermore Valley makes an appealing destination just...

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Explore this quaint town that’s a quick bike ride or ferry away from San Francisco

Just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, a steep hillside covered in chaparral and eucalyptus drops from Highway 101 to a flat, sunny shoreline, two...

Where to release your inner fashionista

Shopping is an art form in California. Whether you are in search of the perfect cocktail dress or an authentic Mexican piñata, you will find it here. Want to sample fresh fruits and...

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Luxurious spas, farm-to-table dining, and easy access to dozens of wineries—these Napa and Sonoma resorts offer the indulgent getaway you need

Ready for some “me time” amid decadent surroundings? Reserve your spot at one of these spectacular Wine Country resorts.


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Half Moon Bay

This delightful little beach town possesses serious surf DNA and is just a short drive from San Francisco

Half Moon Bay is situated 45 minutes south of San Francisco on Highway 1, but it might as well be half a world away. Home to the world-famous...