Gray Kunz

Gray Kunz (February 24, 1955 – March 5, 2020) was a Singaporean-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. He had a career that spanned three continents and was one of Manhattan’s most acclaimed chefs of the 1990s, when he worked for nine years at Lespinasse.[1]

Gray Kunz
Born(1955-02-24)February 24, 1955
DiedMarch 5, 2020(2020-03-05) (aged 65)
Culinary career
Cooking styleFrench, Fusion


Born in Singapore on February 24, 1955, Kunz was raised there as well as in Switzerland.[2] He received his culinary education in Bern, Switzerland. He worked at the Beau Rivage Palace in Lausanne and Baur au Lac in Zurich. Then, Kunz apprenticed under Swiss chef Frédy Girardet for five years in Crissier.[3] After that, he moved to the Regent Hotel in Hong Kong, where he learned French and Chinese cooking methods. In 1988, he moved to Adrienne at the Peninsula Hotel in New York. In 1991, he became the Executive Chef of Lespinasse, becoming the highest-paid chef in the city at the St. Regis Hotel, where he was allowed freedom of creativity and budget to attract members of the "Concorde crowd". While there, he created a special spoon used by the chefs in his kitchen, which was later cited as the favorite kitchen tool for many chefs.[4] He eventually left the restaurant during period of success to venture out and founded his own restaurants, including Salt and Char in Saratoga, New York, Cafe Gray in the Time Warner Center in Manhattan, and Grayz in West 54th Street, also in Manhattan.[5] Kunz mentored many future celebrity chefs, such as Andrew Carmellini, Floyd Cardoz, Rocco DiSpirito, and Corey Lee.[6] He died of a stroke in March 2020 in Poughkeepsie, New York.[2]


Kunz's dishes reflect his travel and educational experience. They marry classic French technique with Pan-Asian flavors and ingredients that he became familiar with in Singapore as a child and later in Hong Kong, where he worked as a chef for five years. He layered techniques from Europe, India, China, and Southeast Asia in his work. In 1994, Ruth Reichl, a food writer, chef, editor, and producer, awarded Kunz a four-star review in the New York Times, the first she had ever given.[7] Aside from the Four Stars from the New York Times, his work earned him multiple James Beard nominations for "Outstanding Chef". Kunz received the Mobil 5 Diamond Award for 1996, 1997, and 1998, was inducted into the Restaurant Hall of Fame in 1998 and the Culinary Institute of America recognized him as a Master of Aesthetics in 2002.[8] Chris Crowley writing for Grub Street in 2016 called Kunz "perhaps the closest chef New York’s modern restaurant scene has to someone like Paul Bocuse.[9]


  • Café Gray – a 225 seat establishment in the Time Warner Center(opened in 2004, closed in 2008)[10]
  • Grayz (closed in 2008)
  • Café Gray Deluxe Hong Kong (opened in 2009)[11]
  • Salt and Char (opened in 2016, left restaurant in summer 2016)[12]

The Elements of TasteEdit

Peter Kaminsky teamed up with Gray and the two published "The Elements of Taste" in 2001.[13]


  1. ^ "Gray Kunz Opening Steakhouse in Saratoga". Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  2. ^ a b Moskin, Julia (March 6, 2020). "Gray Kunz, 65, Dies; Four-Star Chef Fused France and Asia". Retrieved March 7, 2020.
  3. ^ "Chef Gray Kunz of Kunz Food - Biography". Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  4. ^ "Gray Kunz Spoon". Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  5. ^ "The Return of the Prodigal Chefs". New York Magazine. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  6. ^ "Why Legendary Chef Gray Kunz Has Returned to New York — With an Upstate Steakhouse". Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  7. ^ "The Return of the Prodigal Chefs". New York Magazine. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  8. ^ "Chef Gray Kunz of Kunz Food - Biography". Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Gray Kunz Heads to Hong Kong, With One Eye on New York". Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  11. ^ "Hong Kong Taste Festivals". Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  12. ^ "Forbes: Salt and Char". Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  13. ^ "Gray Kunz: Out of the Fire, Into the Frying Pan". Retrieved 28 September 2017.