Michael Chow (restaurateur)

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Michael Chow
Born 1939 (age 74–75)
Shanghai, China
Occupation Restaurateur, interior designer, actor
Spouse(s) Tina Chow
Eva Chun
Children China Chow
Maximillian Chow
Asia Chow
Parents Zhou Xinfang
Relatives Tsai Chin

Michael Chow (simplified Chinese: 周英华; traditional Chinese: 周英華; pinyin: Zhōu Yīnghuá; born 1939) is an actor,[1] interior designer and restaurateur. He is the co-founder and owner of the Mr. Chow restaurant chain.[2][3][4][5][6][7]

Life and career[edit]

Chow was born in Shanghai. His father was Zhou Xinfang, one of China's most famous actors of his time and the leading figure at the Peking Opera. His sister is actress and erstwhile Bond girl Tsai Chin.[8]

His mother came from a wealthy family whose fortune had been made in tea. He was sent to a British boarding school when he was 12 and grew up in Europe. He studied art in London before setting out on a business career alongside his acting.

Before opening his eponymous restaurant chain, he and his business partner Robin Sutherland opened "Smith and Hawes", a hair salon in London's Sloane Avenue, which they later sold to the famous hairdresser Leonard of Grosvenor Square, when it became Leonard and Twiggy. They then opened the Mr. Chow restaurant. Michael Chow’s concept was for a restaurant to offer Chinese food served by Italian waiters, and with a menu the British could understand.

Chow has said his restaurants have always been underlined by "this desire and need to promote the Chinese culture", which he has done through food. He visits China at least twice a year, and has said he’s thrilled by the country’s economic growth and greater presence on the world stage. "China always has been a great, great nation", Chow said in an interview for The Wall Street Journal and added, "Chinese people — I like them. What can I say?"[9]

Sutherland backed the original restaurant idea, raised the money and housed six chefs hired from Hong Kong. Chow designed the restaurant featuring cool green floor tiles and white walls, and it opened in Knightsbridge, London in February 1968, serving Pekinese cuisine. Mr. Chow was a hit and remains in business. Chow bought art by Allen Jones, Peter Blake, Patrick Caulfield, David Hockney and Jim Dine[10] for the walls, which became as celebrated as the food. The partners opened three other Mr. Chow restaurants in London before Michael Chow bought Sutherland out and moved to New York.

From an early age he became an obsessive collector of furniture and contemporary art, notably his now, famous collection of portraits (of himself) by world renowned artists. Since the sixties he has designed many architectural projects, including all of his restaurants, the Giorgio Armani boutiques in Beverly Hills and Las Vegas. His latest design is his home in Los Angeles.

His restaurant chain has expanded to such places such as Las Vegas, Miami, New York and Beverly Hills. Recently, Michael Chow has been appointed as one of the 12 member board of governors called “The Broad” for Eli and Edythe Broad’s three story $130 million Contemporary Art Museum in downtown Los Angeles.

Personal life[edit]

He has been married four times, secondly to Grace Coddington (1968–1969) (divorced), then to the American-born Tina Chow (1972–1990) (divorced), and finally to Eva Chun Chow (1992–present). Fashion Designer and a member of the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America), Eva Chun Chow serves on the Board of Trustees at the Los Angeles County Museum of Arts and co-chairs the annual LACMA Art & Film Gala with Leonardo DiCaprio. Michael Chow has three children, China Chow and Maximillian Chow with Tina Chow; and Asia Chow with Eva Chun.

Filmography[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]