Jean-Georges Vongerichten

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Jean-Georges Vongerichten
Jean-Georges Vongerichten.jpg
Jean-Georges Vongerichten
Born (1957-03-16) March 16, 1957 (age 57).[1]
Alsace, France
Education Culinary school in Perpignan, France
Spouse(s) Marja Dominique Allen
Culinary career
Cooking style Contemporary French cuisine, Thai-inspired French fusion cuisine, American Nouvelle cuisine
Website
jean-georges.com

Jean-Georges Vongerichten /ˌʒɑː ˌʒɔrʒ vɒn.ɡəˈrɪxtən/ is a French chef.[2] He was born in Alsace, France, March 16, 1957, and resides in New York City.[1] Vongerichten commands restaurants in culinary capitals Las Vegas, London, Paris and Shanghai, as well as New York's Jean Georges restaurant.[3] He is author of five cookbooks, two with Mark Bittman.

Early life[edit]

Born and raised on the outskirts of Strasbourg in Alsace, France, Vongerichten’s earliest family memories are about food. The Vongerichten home centered around the kitchen, where each day his mother and grandmother would prepare lunch for the almost 50 employees in their family-owned business. His love for food cemented his choice of career at the age of 16, when his parents brought him to the 3-star Michelin-rated Auberge de l’ill for a birthday dinner.[4]

Culinary education[edit]

Vongerichten began his training soon after in a work-study program at the Auberge de l'ill as an apprentice to Chef Paul Haeberlin. He went on to work with the top chefs in France, including Paul Bocuse and Louis Outhier at L’Oasis in the south of France. Often working with Outhier, Vongerichten opened 10 restaurants around the world from 1980 to 1985, including the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok, the Meridien Hotel in Singapore, and the Mandarin Hotel in Hong Kong.[4]

Relocation to America[edit]

Jean-Georges Vongerichten at his flagship restaurant Jean-Georges.

Vongerichten arrived in the United States in 1985 under the auspices of consulting chef Louis Outhier, opening the Le Marquis de Lafayette restaurant in Boston. A year later he arrived in New York to take over the executive Chef position at Lafayette in the Drake Swissôtel, generating critical acclaim with his innovative interpretation of classic French cuisine and earning four stars from The New York Times at the age of 29. There he met financier Phil Suarez, a loyal dining patron.[5] Vongerichten and Suarez opened a bistro, JoJo, in 1991. JoJo was named Best New Restaurant of the Year, and earned three stars from The New York Times, in which Food critic Ruth Reichl claimed: "His food took my breath away".

Vong

His next venture, Vong, paid homage to his passion for the spices and flavors of the East. Using over 150 different herbs and spices to create his take on Thai-inspired French cuisine, the menu at Vong impressed critics, earning another three-star review from The New York Times for his "explosive flavorful food". In an adjacent space to Vong, Vongerichten also opened The Lipstick Cafe, catering to the midtown business crowd and serving breakfast and lunch in a casual, upscale setting. The Lipstick Cafe has since closed. In November 2009 it was revealed that Vong was closing at its longtime location indefinitely after it decided not to renew the lease.[6] Vong was the inspiration for the name of the main antagonists in a popular series of Star Wars novels. A Del Rey Books executive noticed tea from the Yunnan Province on the menu, and combined the two names to create the alien species Yuuzhan Vong.[7]

Trump Tower location

In March 1997, Vongerichten opened Jean Georges restaurant in the Trump International Hotel and Tower, earning a four star review from The New York Times less than three months after opening, and the "Chef of the Year Award" from John Mariani at Esquire. Jean Georges Restaurant remains one of seven restaurants in the city awarded three stars by the Michelin Guide.

Frank Bruni of The Times said it offers “accessible elegance,” providing “classic French indulgence with a contemporary flair.” The restaurant trades “the richness of traditional French cooking for a different kind of intensity,” he added – it eliminates “thick sauces and embraces oils and broths, preferring them for their lightness and for the way they release their scents, like the perfume of lemon grass that rose from a bath of Asian herbs and seeds around a delicately baked lobster tartine.”[8]

Other Vong locations

A year and a half later, Vongerichten opened a second Vong in the Knightsbridge area of London, earning a three-star review and the 1996 vote for the Evening Standard's "Newcomer of the Year". In September 1997, he opened Vong in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Hong Kong, which Robb Report awarded "Best Restaurant in the World" award in 1998. A fourth Vong in Chicago, partnering with restaurant corporation Lettuce Entertain You and Geoff Alexander to become VTK (Vong's Thai Kitchen) in 2002. This change was to make the signature Jean-George style available to a wider audience at a more accessible price point. All three additional Vongs, including VTK, have since closed.

Vongerichten followed with The Mercer Kitchen, opened in July 1998, in the stylish Mercer Hotel in SoHo. This venture features an American-Provincial menu and ‘communal’ style tables in the open kitchen area. Another addition is the Prime Steakhouse in Steve Wynn’s Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, which opened in October 1998.

Vongerichten opened Spice Market (Southeast Asian street food) in 2004 and Perry Street in 2005 (French-American) in NYC, as well as the Chambers Kitchen in Minneapolis[9] in 2007.

In 2008 Jean Georges teamed up with the Matsushita Brothers from Tokyo to open Matsugen. Matsugen's cuisine focuses on Japanese Soba dishes, but also served sushi and other items including shabu-shabu and sukiyaki.

His latest projects for 2009 include Jean-Georges at Aria in Las Vegas, a restaurant in the Mark Hotel in NYC, a Market and Spice Market in the W Hotel in Doha and a J&G Steakhouse in Scottsdale, Arizona and Washington, D.C.. J&G Steakhouse opened opposite the White House in the W Hotel in 2009.[10]

Starwood Hotels

Vongerichten and partner Phil Suarez have formed a new company with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. and Catterton Partners, a consumer-focused private-equity firm which will own, operate, manage and license restaurants in Starwood properties as well as freestanding concepts not attached to the hotel giant's lodging outlets. The deal calls for seven Spice Markets and other concepts world wide. The total number of eating destinations could total 56 with this contract. The first to open were two Spice Markets at the W Hotel in both Atlanta and Istanbul, respectively.

J&G Steakhouse (Scottsdale)

Vongerichten opened his newest steakhouse in December 2008 atop The Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. Described as a "sleek, sexy, glamorous restaurant,[11] floor to ceiling windows frame the dramatic views of the Phoenix/Scottsdale area. With fare consisting of steaks and seafood, the restaurant has received 4 stars from the Arizona Republic[12] and is regarded as one of the top 3 steakhouses in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area.[13]

Hotel Shangri-La

Vongerichten opened a restaurant at the Hotel Shangri-La Vancouver, a luxury hotel that Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts opened in 2009. “Market by Jean-Georges” is the first collaboration between Shangri-La and Vongerichten and is the famous chef's first involvement with Canadian or west coast dining.[14]

Jean-Georges Steakhouse

Vongerichten opened a namesake restaurant inside Aria,[15] one of the first properties to open in the newly built CityCenter on the Las Vegas Strip. The restaurant features fine steaks served on hot lava rocks as well as sustainable and organic ingredients.[16]

Market (Boston - Closed December, 2013)

In November 2009 Vongerichten opened 'Market' in Boston's new W Hotel, inspired by the casual, simple elegance of the setting, Jean-Georges has created a relaxed menu that emphasizes fresh, locally produced ingredients. Emphasizing comfort and creativity, the menu reinvents classic dishes with eclectic flair, allowing guests to try new flavor combinations and explore spices from other regions, all while remaining close to home. Dishes crafted with seasonal market ingredients and local fish, can be selected from enticing categories on the menu such as Simply Raw, Fish, Meat and a Market tasting menu to enliven the senses and satisfy any craving. Market was closed in December, 2013. Co-owner Culinary Concepts Hospitality Group of New York stated through a spokesman that this was "Due to the rising costs of labor in the hotel landscape in Boston, it became increasingly difficult to operate."[17]

Lawsuit[edit]

In September 2008, Vongerichten agreed to settle a lawsuit for $2.2 million filed by staff who claimed tips from several of his restaurants had been redirected to managers.[18]

Influence[edit]

New York wrote that in the past two decades, no single chef has had more influence on the way New Yorkers dine out—or on the way other chefs cook and other restaurants look. “He invented America’s answer to nouvelle cuisine,” says Mario Batali. “When I first came to New York, his book Simple Cuisine was the holy grail for young chefs, and JoJo was the hottest ticket in town.”[19]

Vongerichten claims to have invented molten chocolate cake in New York City in 1987, but the French chef and chocolatier Jacques Torres has disputed that, arguing that such a dish already existed in France. According to Vongerichten, he pulled a chocolate sponge cake from the oven before it was done and found that the center was still runny, but was warm and had both a good taste and a good texture.

In June 2009, Vongerichten catered a dinner party at the home of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Guests included New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and former President Bill Clinton.[20]

Family[edit]

Jean-Georges is married to a Korean American/African-American actress and model, Marja Vongerichten (née Marja Dominique Allen; born 1976).[21] With Marja, he has a young daughter named Chloe. He also has two adult children, Cedric (who is also a chef) and Louise, from his first marriage.[1]

Books[edit]

Television[edit]

In 2011, Vongerichten and his wife Marja debuted a PBS television series, Kimchi Chronicles, a travel and cooking show set in South Korea and New York City.[22]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Profile: Jean-Georges Vongerichten", CityFile New York
  2. ^ Sigal, Jane "Jean-Georges, Phone Home" Food & Wine magazine, July 2005
  3. ^ Morrow, Fiona "Vancouver restaurant scene lands a star" Globe and Mail, September 9, 2004
  4. ^ a b Bittman, Mark "Meet the Chefs" How to Cook Everything book series, John Wiley & Sons Inc.[dead link]
  5. ^ William Grimes (2009). Appetite City: A Culinary History of New York. Macmillan. p. 302. ISBN 978-0-86547-692-9. 
  6. ^ Amanda (November 3, 2009). "Jean-Georges to shutter Vong on Saturday". Eater.com. 
  7. ^ James Luceno (2003). Star Wars: The New Jedi Order - The Unifying Force. Del Rey. p. Appendix. ISBN 0345428536. 
  8. ^ Jean-Georges Vongerichten New York Times
  9. ^ Chambers Kitchen – Jean Georges Vongerichten's Asian inspired menu
  10. ^ J&G Steak House (Washington) website
  11. ^ "John Mariani". John Mariani. Retrieved April 27, 2011. 
  12. ^ Seftel, Howard (April 7, 2009). "dining". Azcentral.com. Retrieved April 27, 2011. 
  13. ^ Seftel, Howard (January 15, 2009). "azcentral.com". azcentral.com. Retrieved April 27, 2011. 
  14. ^ Morrow, Fiona Internationally feted chef opening Vancouver restaurant Globe and Mail, September 9, 2008
  15. ^ "Aria Las Vegas". Aria Las Vegas. Retrieved April 27, 2011. 
  16. ^ "Las Vegas Restaurants – Jean Georges Steakhouse @ ARIA at CityCenter". Arialasvegas.com. Retrieved December 10, 2011. 
  17. ^ "Famed chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Market restaurant closes in Boston". boston.com. Retrieved January 4, 2013. 
  18. ^ "Waiters successfully sue celeb chef for tips". meeja.com.au. September 17, 2008. Retrieved September 17, 2008. 
  19. ^ Jay McInerney (June 18, 2005). "Jean-Georges is Seeing Stars". New York Magazine. 
  20. ^ Jean Georges Vongerichten (June 19, 2009). "Setting the Record Straight". 
  21. ^ "Celebrity Chef's Wife Returns to Ancestral Home", The Chosun Ilbo newspaper, South Korea, June 29, 2010
  22. ^ Ong, Bao, Kimchi Chronicles, The New York Times, December 8, 2010

External links[edit]