Internationally reputed for his innovative, groundbreaking cuisine, Jean-Georges Vongerichten has emerged as one of the country's leading chefs. Acclaimed by critics as 'formidably gifted,' a 'residential genius' and the 'enfant terrible of modern French cooking', his culinary vision has consistently set new standards and helped define today's generation of cooking.

In 1986, Jean-Georges Vongerichten burst onto the New York dining scene at the Lafayette in the Drake Swissotel, dazzling diners with his innovative interpretation of classic French cuisine and earning four stars from The New York Times at the age of 29. In the first of many bold moves that has established him as a culinary trendsetter, Jean-Georges traded in this formal 4-star dining room for paper-clothed tables and opened his charming bistro Jo Jo in 1991.

At Jo Jo, he introduced us to his 'vibrant and spare cuisine' whose intense flavors and satisfying textures he created by eschewing traditional meat stocks for vegetables juices and fruit essences, light broths and herbal vinaigrettes. Jo Jo was named Best New Restaurant of the Year by John Mariani in Esquire and earned three-stars from The New York Times, which summed up his contemporary French cuisine in the sentence "His food took my breath away."

Jean-Georges' next venture, Vong, paid homage to the spices and flavors of the East, a passion he developed during the three and a half years he lived and worked in the Orient. Using over 150 different herbs and spices to create his unique take on Thai- inspired French cuisine, the menu at Vong wowed both critics and patrons, earning yet another three-star review from The New York Times for his "explosively flavorful food." In an adjacent space to Vong, Vongerichten also opened The Lipstick Cafe, a stylish cafe that caters to the midtown business crowd and serves breakfast and lunch in a casual, upscale setting.

A year and a half later in November of 1995, Vongerichten opened a second Vong in the Knightsbridge area of London, earning a three star review and the 1996 vote for the London Evening Standard's Newcomer of the Year. In September 1997, he opened Vong in The Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Hong Kong, where he has already received accolades from local media. A fourth Vong opened in April 1999 in Chicago.

In March of 1997 Jean-Georges opened restaurant Jean Georges in the Trump International Hotel and Tower, earning a 4-star review from The New York Times less than three months after opening; he was also awarded the coveted Chef of the Year award from John Mariani at Esquire magazine and the Best New Restaurant award by the James Beard Foundation.

His most recent New York City project (July 1998), The Mercer Kitchen at the stylish Mercer Hotel in SoHo, features an American-Provencal menu and Ecommunal style tables in the open kitchen area where hotel guests and diners may choose to eat, converse and watch the kitchen's activities. In October of 1998 Jean Georges opened Prime, a steakhouse located in Steve Wynn's much-anticipated Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.

Alsatian Roots and Traditional Training
Born and raised on the outskirts of Strasbourg in Alsace, Jean-Georges' earliest family memories are about food. The Vongerichten home centered around the kitchen, where each day his mother and grandmother would prepare lunch for the almost 50 employees in their family-owned business. "I would wake every morning to the most wonderful smells," reminisces Jean-Georges "and I quickly became known as 'the palate' to my family, tasting each sauce and dish, recommending salt or some more herbs." His love for food cemented into his choice for a career at the age of 16, when his parents brought him to the 3-star Michelin-rated Auberge de l'Ill for a birthday dinner.

Jean-Georges began his training soon after in a work-study program at the Auberge de l'Ill as an apprentice to chef Paul Haeberlin. He went on to work with the top chefs in France, including Paul Bocuse and master-chef Louis Outhier at L'Oasis in the south of France. With this impressive three-star Michelin training, Vongerichten won a position at the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok. From 1980 to 1985, he opened an impressive 10 restaurants around the world, including the Meridien Hotel in Singapore and the Mandarin Hotel in Hong Kong; it was during this time spent in Asia that Jean-Georges developed his love for the exotic and aromatic flavors of the East that would later translate into his own interpretation on his menu at Vong.

Jean-Georges arrived in the United States in 1985, opening the Lafayette restaurant in Boston. A year later he arrived in New York to take over the executive chef position at Lafayette there.

Awards and Accolades, plus a Cookbook or Two
Jean-Georges Vongerichten currently holds an unprecedented total of twelve stars from The New York Times for his four New York City restaurants, JoJo, Vong, Jean Georges and The Mercer Kitchen. In 1998 Jean-Georges was awarded three medals at the James Beard Restaurant Awards Best New Restaurant, Outstanding Chef, and Who's Who of Food & Beverage; it is the first time that a chef was awarded best new restaurant and outstanding chef in the same year.

In September of 1998 Broadway Books published Jean-Georges' second cookbook, Jean-Georges: Cooking at Home with a Four-Star Chef, which adapts recipes from all of his restaurants for the home cook. His first book, Simple Cuisine features recipes that include his vegetable broths and vinaigrettes and the clean flavors he favors at Jo Jo. Jean-Georges has appeared as a guest on the Martha Stewart Show, Live! with Regis & Kathie Lee, the Today Show and Good Morning America as well as doing several guest spots on the TV Food Network. He is featured in the PBS series, In Julia's Kitchen with Master Chefs with Julia Child, broadcast in 1995. His third cookbook is scheduled to be published in the Fall of 2000.