Even a Fire Can’t Keep One of America’s Best Restaurants Down for Long

Michelin three-star Manresa returns in September with new dishes developed during its 2-month hiatus.

Manresa Photo: courtesy David Spiegelman

On a warm night this past July, three-Michelin-star restaurant Manresa was closed and empty, as per usual on Mondays. But around 9:00 PM there was a flurry of activity. A pile of cloths soaked in sunflower oil left outside one of the exterior walls spontaneously combusted. A long day of heat exposure caused the rags to ignite a blaze that would shut chef David Kinch’s restaurant down for the second time in four years due to fire.

The Los Gatos Fire Department contained the conflagration by 9:14 PM. And now, after two months of rebuilding, Kinch told the New York Times, his legendary restaurant, known for its vegetable-centric California cuisine with Japanese influences, will be back in business starting September 19.

Fortunately, no one was injured, and this time around the fire wasn’t as destructive as the one from four years ago. The 2014 incident closed Manresa for six months in order to complete a $2-million renovation. During this latest blaze, the façade of one wall was damaged, Kinch’s collection of antique Japanese glassware was largely lost, some of the restaurants ingredients that had been fermenting for months were ruined, and a hole in the roof above the pastry department had to be repaired.

During the restaurant’s hiatus, Kinch spent time in his home kitchen revamping the menu. When Manresa reopens, he told the Times Tejal Rao that half of the dishes will be new. One of them he described as a dairy-free corn custard that’s similar to a panna cotta, and will come served with caviar and a umami-rich jelly made from chicken, kombu, sun-dried tomatoes, and mushrooms.

The restaurant’s insurance company covered the staff’s salary sans tips during the closure, but some of them worked during their time off at other Bay Area fine dining establishments.

The last time Kinch and crew rose from the ashes with after repairing the fire damage, eventually claiming it’s third Michelin star.

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