Photo of Michel Richard by Darrow Montgomery.
Photo of Michel Richard by Darrow Montgomery.

Chef Michel Richard has died. He suffered a stroke on Tuesday, according to his longtime publicist Mel Davis. “Michel Richard passed peacefully Aug. 13 at 8:47 a.m.,” she says. “He spent his final days at Sibley Hospital surrounded by his loving family, friends, colleagues, and most especially, the wonderful chef community of Washington, D.C.”

The French-born chef was behind downtown D.C.’s brasserie Central Michel Richard, but most famously, he brought the District Citronelle in Georgetown, which closed in July 2012. Citronelle was instrumental in placing D.C. on the fine dining map.

He was the recipient of several James Beard Awards and was a member of James Beard’s “Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America,” not to mention other notables. He also authored Home Cooking with a French Accent (1993) and Happy in the Kitchen (2006).

Chef Andrew Markert of Beuchert’s Saloon worked under Richard at Citronelle from 2005 to 2006. “Chef was one of the best I had the pleasure of learning from,” Markert says. “He was always the happiest person in the kitchen and always playing with his new ideas and making people smile and always pushing to do something new and different. He taught me how to be smart, focused, and was stern in his teachings. To this day still, it was one of the best crews I worked with, all of whom are now chefs in their own kitchens.” 

Chef Kaz Okochi of Kaz Sushi Bistro was a close friend. “He was a one-of-a-kind great chef and artist who taught and inspired me so much as well as a good friend, sometimes difficult, but always treated me well,” Okochi says. “RIP.” 

Richard’s other close friends and colleagues have been sharing their love and respect on Facebook and Twitter.

Chef Thomas Keller: “I am completely saddened by the news of a great chef & close friend’s passing. Michel Richard will be remembered with love & admiration.”

Chef Roberto Donna: “Very sad to announce that the great Michel Richard left us few minutes ago. Rest in peace my friend! You will be remember for ever. Love you!!”

Chef Bryan Voltaggio: “Very sad to find out this morning about Michel Richard, a great Chef, friend, he always could fill a room with laughter, he will be missed.”

Chef Cedric Maupillier: “RIP Michel. I will always be grateful for the education, the opportunity, the generosity and all the support you offered me. Today I am deeply saddened for all his friends and family. But I also know that he always wanted an occasion to start the party again with his buddy Jean-Louis, so have fun!”

Chef Patrick Robinson: “My life changed when i stepped into Chef Michel’s kitchen back in 08′. He really paved the way to who I am as a Chef today. I loved his food and the culture that surrounds it. Such a big heart and HUGE personality! So many friendships have come from knowing and working with Michel. His impact on me and my family has been priceless. You will always be remembered Chef!”