DC chef Michel Richard has died

August 13, 2016 | Nycci Nellis on Michel Richard (WTOP)

WASHINGTON — Popular D.C. chef Michel Richard has died, according to multiple reports.

Richard was the chef behind several D.C. restaurants, such as Citronelle in Georgetown and Citrus, which have since closed, and Central on Pennsylvania Avenue, which remains open.

He was born in Brittany, France, in 1948 and learned to cook when he was 7, according to NBC Washington.

A spokeswoman for Richard tells The Washington Post that Richard had complications from a stroke.  Calls to the spokeswoman were not immediately returned Saturday.

He was 68.

Today, D.C. is regarded as a food destination. Richard is known as one of the chefs who sparked D.C.’s fine dining movement.

“When Michel Richard arrived in D.C., it really wasn’t a culinary destination at all,” said  Bob Madigan, formerly WTOP’s Man About Town.

Richard earned numerous James Beard Awards since his arrival from Los Angeles during the 1990s and is credited with changing the dynamics of food culture in the District — something he did with flair.

“He had so much fun in his kitchen,” said blogger and WTOP contributor Nycci Nellis, who considered Richard a friend.

She said that playfulness showed up in the meals he served, and recalled a dish that looked like hard-boiled eggs. But diners were in for a surprise: Richard was using a  technique called trompe l’oeil,  French for “trick the eye.”

“It was actually mozzarella cheese and yellow tomatoes,” Nellis said.

Madigan said Richard could “entertain a table for hours.”

“His whole belief in life is that dining should be an exciting entertaining time for everybody — and that meant himself,” Madigan said.

 WTOP’s Tiffany Arnold contributed to this report.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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