Michel Richard, the internationally-known chef with restaurants in Washington, D.C., and Las Vegas is the latest addition to Revel’s culinary lineup. Richard chatted with Total Food Service about his new partnership with Revel and his history in Foodservice.
What goals do you have for your venture at Revel?
My goal is to make my guests happy. I want to create wonderful emotions. If the guests are also gaming while they are at Revel, I want them to eat my food for good luck.
How did the deal come together?
Revel is a partnership that I have been looking forward to for a long time.
What’s the attraction of Atlantic City vs. Las Vegas?
I love the view of the ocean! Atlantic City is a great location because it is close to NYC, Philly, and Washington, DC.
Who had the largest impact on your career and how?
The great pastry chef Gaston Lenotre. He brought me to America in 1974 for one year. I stayed for 38 years.
What’s your read on the DC restaurant scene?
The Washington, DC restaurant scene is wonderful, and getting better and better every day. There are great restaurants here. Chefs from all over the country are coming here to open restaurants. NYC watch out.
How did you learn the business side?
Trial and error. You try, you learn from mistakes, you fix, and try again to give people what they want.
What’s your approach to building a culinary and management team?
You have to inspire respect and have devotion by being a leader. You have to stay fresh and new – I try to come up with something new every day to share with my team.
Sustainability is a big buzz word…how do you source fresh product?
We try to find local ingredients and buy from local purveyors. Our chefs talk to our purveyors to get the best products available in each market.
What has your approach been to a market in which consumers want to pay less but your food costs continue to climb?
I copy my Mother in France, if you follow the seasons, you can buy the best ingredients at the most reasonable prices. She never gave us strawberries in December. I also create different concepts to appeal to different segments of consumers. There is Michel Richard food available at every budget in Washington, DC, Las Vegas, and soon to be Atlantic City.
Do you go out to bid on a regular basis or do you reward vendor loyalty?
No not really.
Have the emergence of the TV/celebrity chef skewed the reality of what it takes to be a successful chef/restaurateur?
Yes, somewhat. Many TV Celebrity chefs are not restaurateurs. We are two different beasts. It is tough to do both.
What’s your approach to marketing? (social media vs. traditional print/radio etc.)?
We still love traditional print of course, but the social media and online publications are the way people communicate the most these days. I love the immediacy of the new Internet possibilities.
What is your approach to the design and build out of kitchens?
I am very involved with my kitchen designs. When you come to my restaurants the chefs are always visible. It reminds me of when I was a kid and felt the first excitement of going into a kitchen. That is the paradise of the restaurant.
Your dining rooms are known for natural woods, neutral colors and an open kitchen as well as toppling plate sculpture and sphere-shaped burgundy chandeliers. How did those design elements evolve? Do you have a designer that you work with?
I tend to work with the same designers over and over because we know that we work well together, and they know what I like and don’t like. My dream was that my kitchen would look like home kitchens where the chef and the family are all together in one room.
Are there “go-to” pieces of equipment or (combi’s, convection etc.) that have made life easier? Do you shop the trade shows to find out what’s new?
I love the microwave, induction stoves, and water circulators for sous vide cooking. They make cooking not just easier, but better.
Do you see any interest in people eating healthier?
Of course. Let’s remove the butter from the table!
What role does dessert (coffee) play on your menus and P&L’s?
I was a pastry chef for 20 years, desserts are very important to me. A good finish is everything!
What’s your approach to your wine and spirit menus?
I love wine, and I try to create lists that give the best wine for the best price.
Look in your crystal ball… what does the future hold?
My restaurants will be busier and busier for the rest of my life. I will never retire.