Chef Michel Richard was born in 1948 and began learning how to cook at age 7, and at the age of 9 he participated in the French equivalent of the “Fresh Air Fund”. By age 14, he was an apprentice baker at a hotel in Reims. After a stint in the French Army, he worked at “Maison Lenôtre” in Paris under Chef Gaston Lenôtre.
Chef Lenôtre took him to New York City to open the “Chateau France”, then on to “The French Pastry Shop” in the La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and finally winding up in Los Angeles in 1977, where he opened “Michel Richard Pastry Shop”. He used the profits to eat in France’s three-star restaurants and train himself to be a chef.
In 1986, he opened the restaurants “Citrus” in Los Angeles, and in December 1994, the Great Chefs Television team showed up to watch him prepare three dishes for their Great Chefs-Great Cities series, a rack of lamb entrée, swordfish porcupines appetizer, and a whitefish entrée.
Afterwards he opened and closed several restaurants including “Citronelle”, in cities like Baltimore, Carmel Valley, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Las Vegas, Philadelphia and Washington DC.
He is now back in New York City with a vengence, opening “Villard” to a bad New York Times review, and “Pomme Palais”, his pastry shop and café. “New York can be unkind”, Great Chef Thomas Keller has said, and Michel has found this out quickly, but he will survive. He always does, and that’s why he is a Great Chef, and we are proud to feature him here on our website in 2014!