Some chefs are pure craftsmen in the kitchen; some are good businessmen; seldom are both culinary artisans and successful entrepreneurs. Charlie Palmer is a member of this rare breed of chef with both an acute culinary and business sense. With over three decades of industry experience, Palmer is a master of a culinary empire under his eponymous restaurant group, with restaurants, boutique hotels, and wine shops—not to mention a legion of protégés—scattered across the US.
Palmer’s start in a professional kitchen was in upstate New York, where he was raised. After high school, he attended The Culinary Institute of America, graduated in 1979, and then headed for Manhattan. He was hired at the legendary La Cote Basque and worked under the wing of Chef Jean Jacques Rachou. Three years and a lot of hard earned skills later, Palmer helmed the kitchen of the Waccabuc Country Club in Westchester County.
Palmer was recruited by Michael O’Keefe, chef-owner of Brooklyn’s famed River Café, in 1983. He led the restaurant to a three-star rating by the New York Times, and quickly gained media attention. Striking while the iron was hot, Palmer left River Café to open his own restaurant, Aureole, in 1988; he was just 28 years old. Twenty two years later, Aureole is still at the top of the Manhattan fine dining scene, having been inducted into Relais & Chateaux and received a Michelin star every year since 2007.
Always an advocate of farm over factory-made food, Palmer developed his signature style of progressive American cuisine using regional ingredients in unexpected and deeply flavorful ways. He’s brought his cooking style and business savvy to thirteen restaurants, boutique hotels, and a growing collection of wine shops, including Métrazur and Astra in New York; Michelin-starred Aureole at the Mandalay Bay; five eponymous restaurants in four states; and Fin Fish and Briscola in Reno, NV. Additionally, Palmer oversees dining for The Stirling Club at Turnberry Place, and recipe development for acclaimed Yachts of Seabourn. Even today, the chef still steps in the kitchen with reinvention on his mind.
Inducted into the James Beard Who's Who of Food & Beverage in America in 1998 and a frequent guest on NBC's Today Show, Charlie Palmer is also the author of four cookbooks, Great American Food, Charlie Palmer's Casual Cooking, The Art of Aureole, and Charlie Palmer's Practical Guide to the New American Kitchen.