Gray Kunz Wiki – Biography
Gray Kunz was a Singaporian-born Swiss restaurateur, chef, and cookbook writer based in New York. Kunz spent his early childhood in Singapore, which influenced his fusion style of cooking later in his life.
Gray Kunz, the beloved New York chef behind Lespinasse, Cafe Gray and Salt & Char, has died at the age of 65. During his illustrious culinary career, Kunz created his own spoon while running the kitchen at Lespinasse.
On the morning of March 6, a statement appeared on The Upper House’s website reading, “We are greatly saddened to learn of the passing of our friend and colleague Gray Kunz. In a career that spanned more than four decades over three continents, he was revered as the Chefs’ Chef.
His contribution to Swire Hotels, and the wider culinary world, is immeasurable. More than ten years of collaboration on Café Gray Deluxe in Hong Kong, and later in Shanghai, further strengthened both our friendship and respect. Gray was an integral part of the success not only of The Upper House and The Middle House but of Swire Hotels as a whole. The thoughts and prayers of his Swire Hotels family and team are with his loved ones during this time.”
Gray Kunz Age
He was 65 years old.
During his illustrious career, Kunz operated Cafe Gray in the Time Warner building in New York City between 2004 and 2008. in 2009, Kunz opened Cafe Gray in Hong Kong. More recently, Kunz opened Salt & Clar in 2016 before leaving the restaurant the same year.
Kunz was a native of Singapore and was raised in Switzerland. In a bio on his official website, Kunz’s diverse upbringing is credited with influencing his taste for “esoteric flavors.” The profile says, “The Asian influences are evident, as is the luxury and contemporary style that have become hallmarks of modern Swiss business, and of course the impeccable preparation of French fine dining.”
In a 2007 interview with the Institute of Culinary Education, Kunz said that he regarded himself as a New Yorker. Despite this, Kunz said that he still regarded Switzerland as his home. Kunz said that his Swiss qualities are “solidness, the trustworthiness, the aspect of when I say something, I do it. The way I think, influenced by my schooling, my upbringing, and my dad, is say less and deliver more.”
Kunz said that his mother contributed to his more artistic side. A Gawker profile on Kunz referred to him as being “reserved, quiet, unnervingly focused, and an intense perfectionist.”
Kunz learned his trade studying under the legendary chef Fredy Giradet in Bern, Switzerland. Kunz told New York Magazine in December 2003 that he worked under Giradet for five years. Then, Kunz spent time honing his craft in Hong Kong where he cooked at The Regent Hotel.
Kunz said of this time, “When I left there. I felt as comfortable with the Chinese palate as with the French.” Following those stints, Kunz went to set up shop in New York City in 1989. Kunz’s first job in the city was at the Peninsula Hotel.
When speaking to the Institute of Culinary Education in 2007, Kunz said that his move to New York was the “culmination” of his education in Europe and Asia. In the same interview, Kunz said that he owned a home in Upstate New York.
Kunz added, “I need to get out of the city, in order to be able to cope with all the things that I have to cope with. Family is really something that’s very difficult for a chef to be able to maintain.”
Wife and Children
Gray Kunz his wife, Nicole, supported the family, including their two children, through her job at the United Nations International School.
Among the awards that Kunz won in lifetime included Best American Chef and Best Chef in New York City, both awarded by the James Beard Foundation. Kunz also co-authored the 2001 book, “The Elements of Taste.” In a 2004 feature in The New York Times, Kunz said that the money from the book, which he co-authored with Peter Kaminsky, was going to aid him in setting up his next project.
Away from the kitchen, Kunz was an enthusiastic pilot, flying a two-seater plane.
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Sad Day for us in the chef world and especially those lucky to have worked with the master Chef Gray Kunz. Lespinasse was the pinnacle of cuisine in early 90's in America and the 4 years working with him were both an amazing experience and bedrock for my whole career in cooking. So many stories to tell but the quote that always stays with me is "Andrew, it's the man, not the pan" #graykunz #masterchef #restinpeace