Richard Rivera grew up with a baker as a father. He attended Elgin Community College in Elgin, Illinois, studying sculpture and ceramics, and these efforts earned him acceptance to the Art Institute of Chicago. Reality then set in, with expenses and student loans, so he decided to use food as his medium, still allowing him to be creative on a daily basis.
He did his own apprenticeships working under European chefs at various hotels, one year at a time, from the Hyatt Regency in Schaumburg, Illinois in 1980, to the Vanderbilt Plaza Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee in 1983; then to the Remington Hotel in Houston in 1984 and finally working for Carolyn Hunt at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge, Massachusetts from 1985 to ‘89.
In 1989, he and his wife Debbie, returned to the Chicago area and opened Ambrosia Euro American Patisserie in Barrington, Illinois. In 1994, the Great Chefs Television crew showed up to tape him for two of their series, Great Chefs – Great Cities and Great Chefs of America, for the Discovery Channel. This year in 2016, they are celebrating their 27th year as one of America’s favorite Patisserie’s. Upon celebrating their 27th year, Chef Rivera at age 57, died Aug. 6 of metastatic prostate cancer.