As one of Boston’s most notable chefs and restaurateurs, chef Ken Oringer’s career began under Chef David Burke at River Café in New York City before moving to New England to work as the Pastry Chef at Al Forno in Providence, Rhode Island and Jean Georges Vongerichten’s Le Marquis de Lafayette in Boston.
After spending time as the Chef de Cuisine at acclaimed San Francisco dining destination Silks in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Oringer returned to Boston in 1997 to open Clio. Clio was named “Best Newcomer of the Year” by Gourmet magazine and made John Mariani’s respected list of “America’s Best New Restaurants” in Esquire. The early success of Clio earned Oringer a James Beard Award nomination for Best Chef Northeast four years in a row, ultimately being honored with Best Chef Northeast in 2001. That same year Clio was named one of Gourmet magazine’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 and local fisherman. Uni went on to earn four stars from The Boston Herald and in 2008 was selected “Best Sushi Bar” by Boston Magazine. In 2005, Oringer opened Toro in Boston’s South End, a Barcelona-inspired tapas restaurant influenced from his travels throughout Spain. In April 2008, Oringer stepped into Kitchen Stadium on the Food etwork’s Iron Chef America where he faced Iron Chef Cat Cora in a coffee battle, ultimately winning by four points.
In November 2009, Oringer together with partner Chef Jamie Bissonnette opened the highly anticipated Coppa, an Italian-style enoteca featuring Italian wines, an experimental cocktail list, and an inventive menu showcasing Oringer’s fearlessness with ingredients and his drive to constantly take risks. Coppa was awarded 3 stars by The Boston Globe and has earned both local and national attention since its debut honorable mention in John Mariani’s 2010 list of “Best New Restaurants” in Esquire magazine. In 2010, Oringer garnered the Star Chefs Rising Stars Mentor Award for his dedication to teaching and inspiring the next generation of chefs. In the fall of 2013, he opened the second Toro
outpost in New York City’s South Chelsea neighborhood, meeting critical acclaim from The New York Times, New York Magazine and others.
Following a nineteen year run in January 2016, Ken closed Clio and expanded his subterranean sashimi lounge, Uni. Months later, Oringer opened Toro Bangkok, followed by Toro Dubai in 2017, alongside chef/partner Jamie Bissonnette. In November 2019, the duo transitioned their Bangkok location of Toro to a second Little Donkey.
In summer of 2016 the duo debuted Little Donkey in Central Square, Cambridge, MA. Little Donkey is a globally inspired tapas restaurant with an entirely Natural and Small Producer wine list, expansive cocktail program and a menu not defined by any rule book.
When he is not in one of his kitchens, Oringer spends his time traveling with his wife Celine, daughter Verveine and son, Luca.