Most people voted “Most Likely to Succeed” often find themselves failing under the weight of such expectations. But Ken Oringer, who received the title from his classmates at the Culinary Institute of America, has indeed found success. After graduating, Ken worked at the River Café in New York, then as a pastry chef at Al Forno in Providence, before running Terra Ristorante Italiano in Greenwich; it was at Terra that he received three stars from the New York Times. Deciding to pull up stakes and head for the west coast, Ken moved to San Francisco in 1992, where he served as chef de cuisine at Silks in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, a move which firmly cemented him on the map.
After a few years out west, Ken returned to the east coast, first working at Tosca in Hingham, MA (which was named “Best Restaurant on the South Shore”), then opening Clio in the Eliot Hotel in Boston. Ken was nominated for a James Beard Foundation award for “Best Chef: Northeast” in 1998 and 1999, and in 2001, he finally secured the award. Since then, Ken has opened a sashimi bar (Uni), an Italian enoteca (Coppa), two tapas bar locations (Toro), and an organic restaurant (Earth at Hidden Pond).
Specialties & Resources
As the vast list of restaurants Ken has opened demonstrates, Ken is no stranger to all different kinds of cuisine. At Uni, the focus is on Asian cuisine, and offerings include smoked uni spoon with yuzu, quail egg yolk and chives; norumbega oyster with oxalis and white currant, grilled peach with yuzu ricotta, sea bean and spoonbill caviar, Thai pork neck yakitori with sweet and sour bok choy; crispy rice balls with bone marrow, uni crema and sun-dried tomatoes; Japanese milk bread with yellow chive and Chinese sausage; and beef shor trib bulgogi tostadas with ssam sauce and pickles.
At Coppa, the menu is more traditional Italian fare, with a focus on smaller items such as salumi plates, cheese plates, and snacks like mortadella pimento formaggio, Island creek oysters with cucumber, yuzu kosho and cilantro, and whipped lardo with clementine, honey and chervil. At Toro, the tapas plates include ensalada (gem lettuce with carrots, sunchokes, migas, cucumbers, tahini dressing and mahon cheese), escalivada catalana (smoked eggplant with onions, peppers and tomatoes with sherry vinegar and olive oil), and aged duck ham. Finally, at Earth at Hidden Pond, Ken provides an all-organic take on contemporary American food, with items such as wood-fired ribeye with heirloom squash, salsa verde, potato salad and peekytoe crab, and whole-roasted bass with fideos, eggplant, smoked bacon, garden herbs, and black mission figs.