Chef Michel Richard, James Beard Winner, Brings Whimsy to the Table
By Jen Karetnick
“A great chef, who is cooking at a level that far exceeds any Michelin three-star chef in France,” states Robert Parker of The Wine Advocate. “One of the finest displays of modern art,” says Tom Sietsema of The Washington Post. “What you see isn’t what you get at Michel Richard Citronelle. The chef has become legend for his playfulness,” writes Phyllis Richman in Food Arts.
These are just some of the comments that respected food writers have made in describing Chef Michel Richard, who began his career as a pastry chef in France, moved to America and became renowned for adapting French cuisine to California ingredients at his Citrus restaurant in Los Angeles. Not that the veteran, who was inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America in 1991, will need any assistance attracting diners to his latest launch: Central by Michel Richard, (pronounced sen-TRAL) located near the Caesars Palace hotel lobby.
“I am not making unusual dishes,” says the French restaurateur of Citronelle and Central in Washington, D.C., as well as Michel in The Ritz-Carlton in McLean, Virginia. “I am not trying to change the world. I just want your mouth to dance with pleasure when you eat my food.”
Richard is known for his playfulness with cuisine; he made burgers out of lobster and added “tartare of filet mignon and French fries” and fish-and-chips to his dinner menu at Washington, D.C.’s, Central Michel Richard, a 2008 James Beard Foundation Award for Best New Restaurant. His whimsy spills over into his writing, earning a James Beard nomination for his second cookbook, Happy in the Kitchen.
Richard calls his Las Vegas restaurant, Central by Michel Richard, “an American bistro but with my French accent,” citing dishes such as the moist and tender 72-hour short ribs, one of his signatures.