When Ken Oringer decides he’s going to do something, he does it and he does it well. He knew he wanted to be a chef when he was a kid. So he set about making that happen once he graduated high school.
Oringer went to Bryant College, earned a degree in hotel and restaurant management, and interned in restaurants, back and front of the house, during breaks. He learned basic cooking techniques at The Culinary Institute of America and then jumped into cooking with gusto.
Oringer’s first kitchen job that really shaped who he is even today was at Brooklyn’s famed River Café when a young and hyper-creative David Burke was at the helm. Burke’s spontaneity and daringness had Oringer rapt, and showed him how to funnel his own culinary artistry. Oringer’s next move was to Al Forno in Providence, Rhode Island, where he befriended a Cambodian cook and co-worker who gave Oringer an insider’s tour of the flavors of Southeast Asia. Oringer learned how to adapt Asian ingredients and flavors to European technique at Jean-George Vongerichten’s Le Marquis de Lafayette in Boston.
Oringer submitted to the urge to move out west and landed in San Francisco with nothing but his bags and eagerness to learn about wine and fabled Pacific coast bounty. He found a job as chef de cuisine at Silks in the Mandarin Oriental and reinvented their menu. After five years, success at Silks, and trips abroad to Singapore, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Spain, and Argentina, Oringer decided the time was right for his own restaurant.
Sensing that Boston was ready for more innovative cooking, Oringer opened Clio in 1997. Clio was named Best Newcomer of the Year by Gourmet magazine and in Esquire’s list of America’s Best New Restaurants. Oringer earned a James Beard Award for Best Chef Northeast in 2001; that same year Clio was named one of Gourmet’s Top 50 Restaurants in America.
In 2002, Oringer opened Uni in the lounge of Clio; a sashimi bar offering the freshest seafood from Tokyo’s Tskuji market as well as local fisherman. In 2005, he opened Toro; then in 2007 he opened the Mexican restaurant La Verdad adjacent to Fenway Park; he was also the consulting chef for KO Prime steakhouse in Hotel Nine Zero. In 2009, Oringer together with partner Chef Jamie Bissonette opened Coppa. Oringer is also on the StarChefs.com Chefs Advisory Board.