Richard is 62 and a dead ringer for Santa Claus, a jolly soul with a soft white beard—no extra padding necessary. He has diabetes, yet he continues to indulge in rich food and drink.
“I’ve never met an ice cream I didn’t like,” he confesses. “I love it. You know, when I go home, my wife is sleeping—she cannot see me. I take the ice cream from the freezer, stick it in the microwave for 10 or 15 seconds. Creamy, delicious—I love it.”...
Richard is an early riser compared with most chefs. Every morning, he gets up around 7 and has a bowl of cornflakes mixed with Yoplait yogurt and two or three tablespoons of frozen sliced fruit, giving the crunchiness that he loves in his cooking. His wife makes him a cappuccino, to which he adds Splenda, not sugar, because of his diabetes. Then it’s off to Citronelle.
When I arrive one morning, Richard is seated at the chef’s table in the kitchen. By night, the rustic wooden table hosts six to eight guests, each of whom pays $350 for a food-and-wine pairing and proximity to the kitchen, not to mention access to Richard, provided he’s in town. During the day, it’s where the chef conducts his business.
Richard, in dark slacks and a plaid short-sleeve button-down shirt, looks up at me with disappointment.
“You’re not a blonde!”
Richard is passionate about women. “The way they look, the way they smell—I want to be a lady!” he says. Richard repeatedly mentions his wife of 23 years, Laurence, and how much he loves her.
He’s aware of the sacrifices chefs and their families make—Richard has been married twice and has six children. The eldest, Michael, is also a chef.
“It’s tough to be married and be a chef,” Richard says. “When your family is dining together, you’re not there. You’re married to the kitchen.”