When you think of sustainable seafood advocates, Rick Moonen should be the first name to come to mind. An advocate for sustainable fishing and seafood, Moonen’s undying passion for conservation has made him an expert in the subject and an educator and role model for others.
A native New Yorker, Moonen graduated first in his class from The Culinary Institute of America in 1978. He apprenticed at L’Hostellerie Bressane where he built both his confidence and experience working side by side with Chef Jean Morel. From there, Moonen assumed the saucier position at Manhattan’s La Cote Basque. This experience was followed by two years at Le Cirque with the legend Alain Sailhac. In the ensuing years, Moonen was executive chef at some of the city’s most iconic restaurants, including Le Relais, Century Café, and Chelsea Central before joining Buzzy O’Keefe at The Water Club.
Six years later, Moonen became executive chef and partner at Oceana, where he helped garner the restaurant national recognition and three stars from The New York Times. He then partnered to create Molyvos, a Greek fish house, where he redefined Greek cuisine and earned it a three-star rating from The Times.
Moonen then decided to develop his own restaurant and created rm. Once again, he earned critical acclaim and received three stars from The Times. In 2005, Moonen was drawn to the rapidly developing culinary scene in Las Vegas and moved his signature restaurant westward. Since opening rm seafood in Mandalay Bay, Moonen has enjoyed national attention and acclaim for his advocacy and culinary know-how.
In 2008, Moonen accomplished a lifelong dream with the publication of his first cookbook Fish Without a Doubt, a practical, hands-on guide to buying, preparing and cooking a wide array of sustainable fish.
When not behind the stove, Moonen can be found traveling the country to educate about ocean conservation and the dangers of over-fishing. He has testified for environmental and sustainability policy issues in Washington, DC and New York. Additionally, he is a founding member of the Seafood Choices Alliances, which named him Seafood Champion in 2006, and an active member of Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch and Seaweb.
Second only to his passion for sustainability is his commitment to ending hunger. Moonen puts that commitment into action serving on the chef’s advisory board for the Las Vegas Three Square Food Bank. He also serves on the StarChefs.com Advisory Board.