Michel Richard is an author, industry advocate, philanthropist, and legendary chef. Known as a pioneer of French food in America, the Brittany native knew he wanted to be a chef at 8, when he first glimpsed a restaurant kitchen. At 14, Richard apprenticed at a patisserie in Champagne, moving to Paris three years later, where he quickly rose to the top position at Gaston Lenotre’s esteemed pastry shop.
In 1974, he moved to America to help open a Manhattan shop with Lenotre and found himself at home in a new country. Three years later, he opened Michel Richard in Los Angeles—it was an instantaneous success. A decade later, Richard opened the stylized and quintessentially French-Californian Citrus and the following year was inducted into James Beard’s “Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America.” Richard then opened a series of restaurants across the country, and even in Japan.
In Washington, D.C., the fifth incarnation of Citronelle was installed at the Latham Hotel in Georgetown after a $2 million renovation. It became the flagship of Richard’s brand. Richard soon opened more casual Central Michel Richard in D.C. and won James Beard’s “Best New Restaurant” in 2008 (there’s a spinoff in Vegas, too.)
After Citronelle closed in 2012, Richard re-focused his energy on New York City, where Villard Michel Richard will open in fall 2013 with high-end Gallery and an accompanying bistro; bakery Pomme Palias, also at the New York Palace hotel, has already opened.