tarting when he was a small child, Chef Richard's passion for food led him to dance to the beat of his own drum. As a grown man in his own kitchen, he often felt that dance pulled him in a million different directions. But being the expert that he is, he would leave the dance behind and become the conductor of the orchestra – guiding his ingredients as if they were notes to music, combining them to form a delightful symphony for all to enjoy. The last ten years at his signature restaurant Citronelle have been a mythical quest in the pursuit of the amazing and unexpected and have continued his lifelong romance with cuisine.
Chef Richard heard his calling when he first caught a glimpse of a restaurant kitchen at the age of eight. "The white hats, aprons, and all of the food - I fell in love," he said of the experience. At fourteen, he apprenticed in a restaurant-run patisserie in Champagne, France. Three years later he moved to Paris, where he quickly rose to the top position at Gaston Lenotre's esteemed pastry shop. In 1975, an opportunity to fully relocate to the United States presented itself. Richard moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he operated a small eatery, serving simple meals along with his delicious pastries. Honing his craft and experiencing great success, Chef Richard soon discovered that ownership afforded him far more creativity, and he bought the shop. Despite his achievement, Richard explained, "Santa Fe was not a dream for an ambitious young chef," and he looked to the West Coast.
Attracted by the power and glamour of the city, Richard moved to Los Angeles in 1977. He opened his own patisserie - Michel Richard - to immediate success. Reaping the rewards of his highly lucrative pastry shop, Richard traveled back and forth to France dining, learning and cooking in three-star Michelin-rated restaurants. In 1987, Richard opened Citrus, serving as executive chef and owner. At Citrus, he found the freedom to adapt his native French cuisine to the tastes of Southern California. Citrus put Michel Richard on the culinary map, and in the same year of its opening, the eatery was voted The Best Restaurant in the United States by Traveler's magazine. In 1988, Michel Richard was inducted into the James Beard Foundation's "Who's Who" in American Food and Wine.
A year later, Richard opened Citronelle, offering a menu similar to that of Citrus, only with a more elegant atmosphere, overlooking the ocean in the Santa Barbara Inn Hotel. With his financial partners from MeriStar Hotels & Resorts, Inc., he went on to open Bistro M in San Francisco, and Citronelle in Baltimore and Philadelphia. In 1994, he opened Citronelle in The Latham Hotel in Washington DC. Four years later, Richard decided to focus all of his efforts on the East Coast. In early 1998, after a $2 million renovation to the restaurant, Richard moved from Los Angeles to Washington DC to devote full-time attention to Michel Richard Citronelle. These days, Richard considers the DC Michel Richard Citronelle his flagship restaurant and continues to amaze and astonish with his culinary creations.