Chef and author Michel Richard dies at 68

Michel RichardMichel Richard, the innovative chef who successfully blended French and American cuisine and helped to put Washington, DC on the map as a culinary destination, died yesterday at age 68. Longtime associate and spokeswoman Mel Davis said that the chef suffered complications from a stroke.

Richard's first DC restaurants, Citronelle and Central, helped create a genre of French cuisine interpreted by American sensibilities. Citronelle was one of the first upscale restaurants to feature an open kitchen, where the chef and his staff prepared food in full view of diners.

Richard found inspiration in everyday foods, "borrowing elements from Kentucky Fried Chicken, potato chips and candy bars for his daring style of cooking." His use of crispy ingredients like nuts, chips, and puffed rice earned Richard the nickname of "Captain Crunch."

In 2007, he received the James Beard Award as the country's outstanding chef. Richard wrote three cookbooks, all popular with EYB Members: Happy in the Kitchen: The Craft of Cooking, The Art of Eating Michel Richards Home Cooking With a French Accent, and Sweet Magic: Easy Recipes for Delectable Desserts.

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