Patrick Clark, who was credited for leading a generation of Americans to embrace a new style of casual but sophisticated French cooking, was born in Brooklyn in 1955, and by age 9 young Patrick was determined to make a perfect cheesecake. His father was a chef at the Four Seasons in New York City and tried to discourage his son about becoming a chef, but to no avail.
Patrick attended New York City Tech College (his father’s alma mater), and then joined the Culinary Arts Program at Bournemouth & Pool College in the UK. He apprenticed at Braganza Restaurant in London, then mastered his skills under Michel Guerard’s Eugenie-les-Bains in France. He then returned to New York City as assistant chef at the new, hot Regine’s Club.
He first attracted attention in 1980 as Executive Chef at Odeon in TriBeCa where he received two stars from the New York Times at age 25, and later at both Odeon and Café Luxembourg, another of Keith McNally’s restaurants. He is credited with helping inspire Great Chef Michael Lomonaco as a chef. Lomonaco, who was a would-be actor at the time, cooked as a hobby and supported himself as a driver for a limo service, and he would drive Chef Clark from the TriBeCa restaurant to his home. In 1988 Patrick opened his own restaurant Metro on the Upper East Side, but closed it in 1990 due to the economy, and moved out to Los Angeles as Executive Chef of Restaurant Bice.
After a year, he became homesick, and returned to the east coast to run the restaurant in the Hay-Adams Hotel in Washington DC, which is where Great Chefs taped 3 dishes for their Great Chefs of the East and Great Chefs – Great Cities series. In 1994, he won the James Beard Award as Best Chef of the Mid-Atlantic. Hillary Clinton offered him the job as Executive Chef of the White House, but he turned it down, and in 1995 moved back up to New York City to run LeRoy Warner’s Tavern on the Green restaurant.
Two years later, he was forced to take a leave of absence to await a heart transplant that never happened. He passed away in February, 1998. Patrick Clark leaves a third generation of Clark chefs, his son Preston, who now cooks at El Paseo in San Francisco.