World Chefs: Francois aims to put stamp on landmark NYC restaurant

Tue Oct 28, 2014 10:29am EDT
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By Richard Leong

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Raphael Francois has been treading a fine line between updating Le Cirque, the landmark New York City restaurant, and preserving its European fine-dining traditions since he became head chef in January.

The classically trained Francois, 35, is the latest in a string of talented chefs who have worked at the 40-year-old eatery. Some of them including Daniel Boulud, David Bouley, Bill Telepan, Michael Lomonaco and Geoffrey Zakarian have gone on to achieve success on their own.

Prior to Le Cirque, Francois was the executive chef at the Helene Darroze restaurant at the Connaught Hotel in London where he earned two Michelin stars.

Francois, who was born in Tournai, Belgium, spoke to Reuters about his move across the Atlantic and what makes a good burger.

Q: What are you bringing to Le Cirque?

A: My style has a very strong French basis. I also have to adopt my style to Le Cirque. My style matches with the environment. The flavor of my food is always classic.

Q: What reputation does Le Cirque have in Europe?

A: In Europe, it is known as a well-established restaurant and an institution in New York. When you are a European and you want to try a restaurant in New York, Le Cirque is one of those places you want to try.   Continued...

Belgian chef Raphael Francois poses outside Le Cirque, the landmark New York City restaurant, where he became head chef in January 2014. 
REUTERS/Evan Sung/Le Cirque