MICHEL-RICHARD_SPAN-articleLarge-v2Over more than three decades, Michel Richard has risen to the highest ranks of American chefs, with acclaimed restaurants in Los Angeles and Washington. But as everyone in his business knows, making a big debut in New York’s tough, trend-happy dining scene is something else entirely — especially when you’re 65.

And he is not arriving on tiptoe: Pomme Palais, his pastry shop and cafe, is set to open this month at the New York Palace Hotel, and two restaurants in the hotel will follow. The prospect of starting anew here at this stage in his career, he acknowledged, is somewhat daunting.
“I’m not known in New York,” he said in an interview at a test kitchen in Harlem. “Nobody’s waiting for me here.”
Yet the move is a bit of a homecoming for Mr. Richard. He came to New York from France in 1974 as part of the team that helped Gaston Lenôtre open a fancy food shop and patisserie on East 59th Street. The store closed after three years, and by then, Mr. Richard had decided that America was for him, though not necessarily New York.
He is making his return at a time in his life when other chefs might be thinking about golf.
“I don’t know why he is doing this at 65,” said Thomas Keller, the chef and owner of Per Se in New York and the French Laundry in the Napa Valley, who added that New York was a city he once struggled in. “It’s a lot of responsibility and a huge amount of effort. I love Michel, but New York can be unkind.”
The new venture at the hotel will be called Villard Michel Richard.

By Florence Fabricant
Courtesy of NY Times