Chef and restaurateur Ken Oringer
Photos courtesy of Little Donkey and Toro Boston

Resy QuestionnaireBoston

20 Questions with Ken Oringer of Toro, Little Donkey, and More


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In the Resy Questionnaire, we play a game of 20 questions with the industry folks behind some of our favorite restaurants. What’s your most memorable restaurant experience? Your favorite food movie? What restaurant would you want to time-travel for?

In this edition, we spoke to Ken Oringer, the prolific chef and restaurateur behind some of Boston’s favorite restaurants — Toro, Coppa, Little Donkey, and Faccia a Faccia are but a few.

The Resy Questionnaire

1. Favorite thing you’ve ever cooked?

Anytime I can cook seafood straight from the ocean on an open fire — that’s my favorite thing to cook. Or when it’s fresh from the ocean and I can serve up sashimi. Everything is just so fresh, it can’t be beat!

Little Donkey interior
Photo by Natalie Ann Schaefer, courtesy of Little Donkey
Little Donkey interior
Photo by Natalie Ann Schaefer, courtesy of Little Donkey

2. Kitchen tool or equipment you couldn’t live without?

Other than a chef’s knife, I can’t live without a microplane or a mortar and pestle.

3. What pantry items would you bring on a desert island?

I would bring Frank’s Red hot sauce, garlic, soy sauce, fish sauce, and cilantro.

4. What’s your favorite place to get a lobster roll in Boston?

Neptune Oyster in the North End.

5. Favorite cookbook?

Jacques Pépin’s The Art of Cooking, volumes 1 and 2.

6. Your drink of choice?


7. Favorite food movie?

“Babette’s Feast.”

8. Your ideal dinner party guest, dead or alive? 

I always love hanging with José Andrés over dinner, so this would be the chef I would love to cook or have over for a dinner party!

9. What restaurant industry person do you admire the most?

Continuing off my answer above, José Andrés. He is a super human in spirit, generosity, and humility.

10. The greatest restaurant experience of your life so far?

The greatest restaurant experience of my life thus far has been going to Madrid Fusión. Being able to demo creatively with some of the world’s best chefs was a moment I will remember for a lifetime.

11. Your greatest professional achievement?

My greatest professional achievement has been opening multiple restaurants with such incredibly kind and motivated people.

12. What single dish best describes your personality?

The caviar sandwich from Little Donkey. Also the uni spoon with caviar and quail egg at Uni is another dish that perfectly sums up my personality.

Little Donkey caviar sammy
Said caviar sandwich. Photo courtesy of Little Donkey
Little Donkey caviar sammy
Said caviar sandwich. Photo courtesy of Little Donkey

13. If you could go back in time, which restaurant would you dine at?

I would love to have eaten Peking duck from a Beijing restaurant about 40 years ago in China.

14. Your favorite meal from childhood?

My mom’s roast chicken with butter and lemon.

15. Do you have any tips or tricks for dining out with kids at your restaurants? 

My tip is that when you are dining out with your kids, open them up to new things and don’t underestimate how curious they might be! Put anything in front of them to broaden their food horizons. Who knows, your kid’s palate might just surprise you.

16. What is your wish for the restaurant industry?

My wish is for there to be a better work-life balance and for restaurants to implement four-day work weeks. Folks often forget how hard it really is to make a living in this industry, and if the industry at large was to implement shorter work weeks and better work-life balance, it would be a great way to move forward.

17. What do you wish you did better? What do you do well?

I wish I wasn’t so intense as a young chef.

One thing that I think I do well is that I really take pride in teaching and mentoring my staff. Mentoring is one of my passions, and many of my staff have gone on to win James Beard Awards, Michelin stars, and more, which always fills me with so much pride!

18. If you could eat through a city for a day, where would you go?


19. The one thing you can’t resist splurging on when you go out?


20. It’s your last meal on earth, what are you eating?

For my last meal on earth, I would eat anywhere where there are fresh white truffles, caviar, and hot dogs.


Noëmie Carrant is Resy’s senior writer. Follow her on Instagram. Follow Resy on Instagram, too.