Rick Moonen was meant to be a chef. His energy,
passion for food, and passion for and making others happy are personality
pre-requisites. Rick got his first taste of life in a kitchen when
he joined the Culinary Institute of America in 1976. He graduated
first in his class, spent some time at The Escoffier Room, and apprenticed
at L’Hostellerie Bressane in Hillsdale, NY.
His 2 years at La Cote Basque, alongside a young
Charlie Palmer, gave Rick more experience as a saucier. He left
his home city briefly on a stint as a sous chef in the Key West
resort area, but New York beckoned him home. He returned to a position
at world famous Le Cirque working with Alain Sailhac. In the ensuing
years, Rick stayed in New York and was a chef at Le Relais, Century
Café and Chelsea Central before accepting the Executive Chef
position at The Water Club in 1988. He commanded the popular seafood
restaurant for six years, eventually taking an offer of Executive
Chef and restaurant partner at Oceana. He received countless accolades,
and three stars from a review in The New York Times.
Rick dreamed of having his own restaurant, and
he realized that goal twofold in the fall of 2002, when he opened
rm and Branzini with partners Matthew and Richard
This seafood specialist can be found on his downtime
deep sea fishing or walking the aisles at The Fulton Fish Market
at four o’clock in the morning. His passion for seafood is
well known and well appreciated by his patrons.
Moonen has been a frequent guest on many television
shows such as Today, Good Morning, America,
CBS’s The Early Show and on several Food Network shows
such as Cooking Live with Sara Moulton.
Moonen received the 1993 Chef of the Year
Award for the Northeast Region from Chefs in America, is a member
of the Corporation of the CIA, is a member of the Wildlife Conservation
Society, is a founding member of The Seafood Choices Alliance, and
has been a spokesperson for several foods and nationally known food
products. He is the American representative for Oliviers & Co.,
an importer of fine olive oils and olive oil products. Rick also
writes, as contributing editor to Food & Wine Magazine.
He is actively involved in charitable organizations and events,
such as AIWF’s “Days of Taste” children’s
program and Share our Strength’s Restaurant Committee.