Patrick O'Connell (chef)

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Patrick O'Connell
Born (1945-10-10) October 10, 1945 (age 68)
Washington, DC
Education Catholic University of America
Spouse(s) Redinhardt Lynch (former)
Culinary career
Cooking style Refined American Cuisine
Website
www.theinnatlittlewashington.com/washington-inn-founder.php

Patrick O’Connell is the chef and proprietor of The Inn at Little Washington, a country inn and restaurant in the town of Washington in Virginia's Rappahannock County.[1] O’Connell was not classically trained as a chef. His training began at fifteen when he worked after school at a neighborhood restaurant in his native Washington D.C.[2] Along with his now former partner and lover, Reinhardt Lynch, he began a catering business in 1972 in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains. In 1978, O'Connell and Lynch opened the Inn at Little Washington in an abandoned gas station. Opening first for friends and acquaintances on January 28, 1978, then officially to the public on February 1, 1978, the Inn at Little Washington was met with immediate success and notoriety despite antagonism from many locals. Three weeks after opening, a food critic for the Washington Star, a Washington D.C. newspaper, John Rosson, visited the Inn for dinner after the insistence of one of his loyal readers. Familiar with Rappahannock County, Rosson accepted the challenge to visit the new restaurant in the sleepy town of Washington, VA, located 67 miles west of the younger but more recognizable Washington D.C. Upon visiting for the first time, he was amazed by what he experienced. To be certain that it was more than just a "fluke" or a "series of fortunate events," Rosson would return the next week. Upon doing so, equally astonished by the depth and breadth of his experience, he thought it best to introduce himself, despite regarding his anonymity as a food writer as a well-guarded secret. The critic had met his match at least in terms of his ability of uncovering any weak underside of a fledgling new entity, especially one centered in the midst of a sparsely populated village of less than 300 residents. By introducing himself to the new chef and proprietor, he gave a not-so-subtle warning that was more prophetic than conciliatory: "I am going to write a story about you that is going to change your life. You are going to need to hire someone full time just to answer your phone!"

In April, 1978, John Rosson's article was printed, proclaiming Patrick O'Connell's Inn at Little Washington as "the best restaurant within 150 miles of Washington D.C."

O'Connell was one of the first American chefs courted by the France-based Relais & Chateaux. He is recognized as one of their "Grands Chefs" (formerly the designation was "Relais Gourmands" referring to establishments of two MIchelin Star quality or better, among the very best in their country). He has been called "The Pope of American Cuisine," and anyone who has been invited to dine in the kitchen is welcomed with the pageantry (and incense) of a religious ceremony.[3]

In April, 2008, the Inn at Little Washington celebrated her 30th anniversary at the Mellon Auditorium in Washington D.C. where they premiered an original film highlighting the unique and remarkable history of America's culinary rebirth via "culinary pioneers." Thirty notable chefs, cookbook authors, critics and television personalities, including O'Connell, were recognized for leading America into the spotlight as a gastronomical super power mirrored by the amazing feats of Patrick O'Connell and his Inn at Little Washington. O'Connell has instituted a program of honoring culinary pioneers in naming, and decorating, suites in his Inn after them. The first such honoree was Craig Claiborne.[4]

O'Connell holds an undergraduate degree in drama from the Catholic University of America. He has won numerous awards including Outstanding Chef in America in 2001 and Best Chef in the Mid-Atlantic region in 1993, both awarded by the James Beard Foundation. He was also one of the original inductees into "Who's Who of Food and Beverage in America." The Inn has won the Mobil Travel Guide’s Five-Star Awards for its restaurant and accommodations for 14 years.[5]

Works[edit]

  • O'Connell, Patrick (2004). Patrick O'Connell's Refined American Cuisine: The Inn at Little Washington. photographs by Tim Turner. New York: Bullfinch Press. ISBN 0-8212-2845-5. 

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "The Chefs: Patrick O'Connell". Chef's Story. KQED San Francisco. Retrieved 2007-10-17. 
  2. ^ "Patrick O'Connell". Author Spotlight. Random House, Inc. Retrieved 2007-10-17. 
  3. ^ "Meet Chef Patrick O'Connell of the Inn at Little Washington on the official website of Grands Chefs Relais & Châteaux". World Wide Gourmet. 
  4. ^ "Claiborne House". Inn At Little Washington. 
  5. ^ "Patrick O'Connell". Author Spotlight. Random House, Inc. Retrieved 2007-10-17. 

References[edit]