Chef Andre Soltner of The International Culinary Center - Biography
New York, NY
It can arguably be said that Chef Andre Soltner was America’s first superstar chef. As chef/owner of Lutèce for 34 years, he didn’t just serve some of the world’s finest French cuisine, he elevated it to a high art. Though he’s always seen himself as a craftsman, his restaurant was a New York City four-star institution considered the paragon of classic French cuisine. It made such an impact on the state of fine dining in the US that its closing was mourned on the front page of The New York Times.
Soltner was born in Alsace and started his apprenticeship, at Hôtel du Parc in Mulhouse, at age 15. By 27, he had become chef of the fashionable Parisian restaurant Chez Hansi. Soltner arrived in the US in 1961 to open Lutèce, where he regularly hosted luminaries such as the Kennedys, Richard Nixon, Katharine Hepburn, John Lennon and Roy Lichtenstein. For 23 consecutive years, from 1971 to 1994, the legendary restaurant, under his leadership, held five stars in the Mobil Guide and four stars from The New York Times.
In 1995, Soltner joined the teaching faculty of The French Culinary Institute. He divides his time at the school between teaching hands-on cooking techniques and career counseling students. Soltner also regularly demonstrates classic menus in The French Culinary Institute’s International Culinary Theater.
Soltner has received dozens of distinctions, including the French government’s prestigious Officier du Mérite National and Chevalier dans l’Ordre de la Légion d’Honneur. Highlights of his other recognitions include the James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award; the Grande Médaille d’Or from the Académie Culinaire de France; the Grand Prix d’Honneur du Salon Culinaire; the Lauréat du Concours du Meilleur Ouvrier of France; the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres; Chevalier du Mérite Agricole; and the Médaille d’Or, Exposition Culinaire d’Arpajon.
He is a member of several culinary organizations, including the American Institute of Wine & Food, for which he and his wife, Simone, in 1996 established the André and Simone Soltner Food Education Scholarship to assist applicants seeking a culinary career. Soltner is a member of the Vatel Club of New York. He is a member of and previously served for more than 20 years as Délegué Général of the Maîtres Cuisiniers de France (Master Chefs of France). He also is a trustee of the Société Culinaire Philanthropique.