Born as Constantin Kerageorgiou in Port St. Louis, a tiny fishing village outside of Marseilles, France, Chris was the ninth of 13 children, and the son of impoverished parents who had emigrated from Greece. From an early age, he showed a passion for cooking, even though the family kitchen was primitive with only a sink, a table, a coal burning stove and no refrigeration. With almost no schooling, he went to work as a child in a bakery, which he hated.
When WW II broke out, the family fled to Lyon, and Chris joined the French underground. After the war, he enlisted in the Merchant Marines as a cook, and jumped ship in San Francisco with $.50 in his pocket, spoke no English, and had no papers. Street smart, the first thing he learned was not to get caught. He learned the basics of cooking in the hotel kitchens, washing dishes, as a busboy and taking odd jobs. He took the term “self-taught” up a notch. He later worked in the galleys of great ocean liners where he met his friend, Goffredo Fraccaro, and then moved to New Orleans, working his way up to Captain in the hotel dining rooms. His last job was as maître d’ of the Esplanade in the Royal Orleans Hotel before opening his own restaurant.
In 1972, he opened La Provence Restaurant on a quiet stretch of highway in Lacombe, Louisiana, an hour outside of New Orleans. In 1981, the Great Chefs television crew showed up at La Provence to tape Chef Chris for their first Great Chefs television series, Great Chefs of New Orleans I, and later for their third series, Great Chefs of New Orleans II.
He sold the restaurant to his former chef de cuisine, John Besh, in 2006, and Chef Chris passed away the following year.