Chef Chat: Clayton Kinsey & Pintxo

Clayton Kinsey is establishing himself as a rock star in the Seattle culinary scene, and if you don’t believe us, just head over to Pintxo for some of his  classic-yet-contemporary Spanish tapas.  We recently sat down with the young chef to find out what he’s passionate about and what inspires him in the kitchen.  By working in a range of diverse and respected kitchens including: Pink Door, Serafina and Cicchetti, as well as making cheese at Beecher’s, he has gained a versatility and knowledge that you won’t usually find in a chef of only 25 years old.

WTEG: What are some of your favorite things to cook with?

Clay: Coming from a classic French background – I attended the Culinary Institute of America in New York - I just love butter and cream.  And I must admit that I’m a bit of a salt fiend!  I love cooking with pork, it’s definitely my favorite protein to work with.  I also really enjoy using spices like cumin and coriander; it’s great to use the simplest spices to make something so robust.

WTEG: Tell us about your culinary inspiration.

Clay:  I've been influenced by all types of cooking: Spanish, Italian, French, Mexican and Filipino. I grew up in California so I was spoiled with authentic Mexican cooking and it still plays a big part in some of the dishes I create today.  I also spent several weeks in the Philippines in my early 20's, where I had the best meal of my life: an authentic Filipino meal prepared by four generations of women.  These ladies were more in sync than most professional kitchens I have been in, and the end result was a Filipino feast: whole fried fish, papaya salad, dinuguan, chicken and octopus adobo….

WTEG:  What’s the one thing you’d tell someone they have to try on the menu at Pintxo?

Clay: Definitely the Braised Pork in Escabeche.  The pork actually takes four days from start to finish to prepare and comes out ultra-tender.  It’s accompanied by a rich and flavorful white bean puree.

WTEG: What’s your favorite restaurant in Seattle?

Clay: My favorite place is, hands down, Oriental Mart at Pike Place Market. It’s a small, super authentic Filipino restaurant that takes me back to the food I ate and the people I worked with when I was in the Philippines.  The staff is like family and the food is always amazing.

WTEG:  How frequently are you changing the menu up at Pintxo?

Clay: We change the Raciones quarterly and I really enjoy conceptualizing and composing new dishes.  It’s more of a challenge with smaller plates – how do you make what you can get out of just a few bites enough? Daniel Boulud said “Simplicity is a sign of perfection,” and I whole-heartedly agree.  There should never be more than 4 or 5 ingredients on a plate.


Written by: Stephanie Forrer

Photo Credits: Jason Trinkle Photography