World Chefs: Michel Richard makes glitzy return to NY

Tue Jan 7, 2014 5:19am EST
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By Richard Leong

NEW YORK (Reuters) - After a nearly 40-year absence, renowned French chef Michel Richard has returned to New York City to open his new restaurant Villard Michel Richard along with a bakery called Pomme Palais.

Both are part of a $140 million makeover of the New York Palace hotel, which incorporates the historic Villard Mansion, which was built in 1882. The new restaurant replaces the two-Michelin-star restaurant, GILT, which closed a year ago.

Richard, a native of Brittany, left New York after the pastry shop he had opened with French Chef Gaston Lenotre closed in 1975. He moved to California where he earned praise for his fusion of classic cooking techniques with local ingredients.

After opening a string of restaurants across the country in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Richard settled in Washington, D.C. where he built on his success with the restaurants Central Michel Richard and Citronelle, which closed last year.

Richard, 65, spoke to Reuters about his long absence from New York, what still inspires him and his special ingredients.

Q: How does it feel being back in the New York dining scene after nearly four decades?

A: I love it. I've spent 40 years trying to learn what American guests want to eat. I feel ready. Now I think I'm ready to be back in New York City.

Q: Compare this latest experience with your first one working in New York.   Continued...

French chef Michel Richard poses inside his Washington restaurant Central Michal Richard in 2012, in this handout photo. REUTERS/Susie Cushner/Handout