Chosen by the James Beard Foundation as Outstanding Chef 2007 and Outstanding Wine Service 2007, Michel Richard exemplifies the art of cuisi
ne and a love of his profession.
Richard is a pioneer in creating the revolutionary French/California cuisine. His style is light, fresh and intelligent, focusing on innovative combinations, witty presentations and always an element of texture.
Richard knew he wanted to be a chef when he first glimpsed a restaurant kitchen at the age of eight. “The white hats, aprons, and all of the food – I fell in love,” Richard says now of the experience. His fate was decided. At 14, he apprenticed in a restaurant-run patisserie in Champagne, France. Three years later he moved to Paris where he quickly rose to the top position at Gaston Lenotre’s esteemed pastry shop.
But, like many other chefs of his age growing up during the Bocuse revolution, Richard wanted to move to America. The opportunity came in 1974 when Lenotre opened a pastry shop in the States. Perhaps, America was not yet ready for Lenotre’s sophisticated French fare, the patisserie soon closed.
While Richard thought he would eventually return to France, in 1975 he moved to Santa Fe for the opportunity to run a pastry shop serving simple meals. A year later he bought the shop finding that ownership was much more lucrative and creatively energizing. Despite his success, “Santa Fe was not a dream for an ambitious young chef,” Richard looked to the West Coast for his next move.
In 1977 Richard moved to Los Angeles, attracted by the power and glamour of the city. He opened Michel Richard to instant success and traveled back and forth to France eating, learning and cooking in three star Michelin-rated restaurants.
In 1986, he opened Citrus, adapting his native French cuisine to the tastes of Southern California. Citrus put him on the culinary map and in 1987 was voted “The Best Restaurant in the United States” by Traveler’s magazine In 1988, Michel Richard was inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s “Who’s Who” in American Food and Wine.
Richard opened Citronelle, offering a menu similar to that of Citrus, but in a more elegant atmosphere overlooking the ocean in the Santa Barbara Inn Hotel in 1991. With his financial partners from MeriStar Hotels & Resorts, Inc., he went on to open Bistro M in San Francisco, and Citronelle in Baltimore, Philadelphia and Tokyo, Japan. In 1994, he opened Citronelle in the Latham Hotel Georgetown in Washington, D.C. Four years later, he decided to focus all of his efforts on the East Coast. In early 1998, after a $2 million renovation, Richard moved from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. to cook full time at Michel Richard Citronelle, which is now considered the flagship restaurant.
Richard authored “Michel Richard’s Home Cooking with a French Accent” published by William Morrow in 1993 and became active in many philanthropic endeavors including a Gala for which he organized 70 of France’s greatest chefs to honor Julia Child and raised money for the American Institute of Wine & Food. He was a nominee for James Beard’s, Chef of the Year Award for 1996. The same year, he received the Five-Star Fleur de Lys Award for Outstanding Restaurant. The October 2001 issue of Gourmet listed Michel Richard Citronelle as one of the Top 20 Restaurants in the Country and by October of 2004, he made the cover of Gourmet, an unprecedented honor. Richard regularly lends his creativity to prestigious culinary publications such as Food & Wine, Food Arts, Saveur, Bon Appetit, Wine Spectator and the Wine Advocate, and is often featured in major regional publications such as the Washingtonian, New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times, among others.
In May 2002, he was voted by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington as the Best Fine Dining Restaurant and Chef of the Year, an accomplishment that no other has attained in the history of the RAMW. Citronelle is repeatedly the recipient of such high honors as Exxon Mobile Four Star and AAA Four Diamond Award awards. In 2002 Michel Richard Citronelle became an invited member of the internationally acclaimed Traditions & Qualité, Les Grandes Tables du Monde.
Richard has been featured on many television and radio shows nationally and internationally. These appearances include “CBS Early Show,” “Martha Stewart,” “Good Morning America,” Food Network, The Outdoor Living Channel, the PBS series “Cooking with Master Chefs, hosted by Julia Child,” NPR’s “Morning Edition” and “Splendid Tables,” Washington D.C. TV9, French TVTF1, PBS’ Colameco’s Food Show and Canadian TV series “Relais Gourmands.” These restaurants also hold top honors in the best American dining guides such as Gayot and Zagat.
Michel’s second book “Happy in the Kitchen” published by Artisan in 2006, earned a 2007 James Beard Nomination for Cooking from a Professional Point of View.
In January 2007, Central Michel Richard opened in downtown Washington, D.C., and won the 2008 James Beard Best New Restaurant Central Michel Richard, the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington 2008 Best Bar Scene, 2009 Power Spot of the Year, and continues as a favorite among the critics. Richard also received the coveted James Beard Award for “Outstanding Chef of the Year” in 2007.
MICHEL by Michel Richard a modern French restaurant, opened at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner in the fall of 2010, at the same time, his latest book “Sweet Magic, Easy Recipes for Delectable Desserts” published by Harper Collins, hit the shelves nationwide.
Constantly engaged in something new, Richard’s most ambitious project to date, Central Michel Richard at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas opened in the fall of 2011. Located in the majestic Caesars Palace registration lobby and boasting frontage along the resort’s historic Roman plaza, the restaurant holds the distinction of being the first-ever restaurant helmed by a James Beard Award-winning chef to be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.