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|Occupation||Award-Winning Chef / Owner|
Thierry Rautureau, nicknamed The Chef In The Hat, is the chef/owner of Rover's and Luc Restaurants in Seattle, Washington. Rautureau was born in the Muscadet region of France, apprenticed in Anjou, France, and at twenty moved to the United States to work at several fine restaurants. He became the chef/owner of Rover's Restaurant in 1987 and since has won various awards including the James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Pacific Northwest in 1998, and has been awarded the Chevalier de l’Ordre Du Mérite Agricole by the French government. In 2010, Rautureau opened Luc, a French-American café and bar. He has cooked for such well-known figures as Hillary Clinton, Francis Ford Coppola, Jackson Browne, and Julia Child.
Thierry Rautureau hails from the town of Saint Hilaire de Clisson in the Muscadet region of France. His parents were farmers in a small agricultural community where the cows and chickens outnumbered the people. The family cooked only what they grew, thus providing a purely seasonal diet. As the oldest child, Rautureau was given the chore of doing the prep for dinner; and as such he quickly became acquainted with fresh homegrown ingredients at a young age.
At fourteen, Rautureau started a cooking apprenticeship in Anjou, France and at sixteen went on a Regional Tour de France and trained in the cities of Le Mont Saint Michel in Normandy, Chamonix in the French Alps, and Hendaye in the Pays Basque. At twenty, after six years of traditional French training, Rautureau headed for the United States and took his professional experience to La Fontaine with Jean Claude Poilevey in Chicago. After three years in Chicago, Rautureau moved to Los Angeles where he worked at the Regency Club with Joachim Splichal, and then The Seventh Street Bistro with Laurent Quenioux.
While visiting Seattle in 1987, Rautureau dined at Rover’s and discovered that the restaurant was for sale. He decided to buy the restaurant so that he could express his culinary creativity as the chef/owner while enjoying the Pacific Northwest.
Rautureau says of his cooking philosophy: “it starts with freshness and continues with treating all ingredients with attention.” He identifies the cuisine at Rover’s as “Northwest contemporary with a French accent.” His cuisine also contains Mediterranean overtones and various Asian elements. Overall his cuisine is aligned with the philosophy of "food as art". Rover's closed its doors on June 23, 2013.
In 2010, Rautureau opened Luc, a casual French-American café and bar named after the his late father, Luc Rautureau. Being primarily local, seasonal and sustainable, Luc’s food is heavily influenced by the French comfort food Rautureau grew up eating on his parents’ farm.
In order to raise money to open Luc, the established chef pre-sold gift certificates. Interested parties were offered three gift certificates valued at $435, which could be used over the course of three years for $1,000. The names of these "Founding Diners" are now featured in Luc on bronze plaques.
The two paintings in the dining room are both artistic interpretations of old Rautureau family photographs, one of Rautureau as a boy and another of his parents as a young couple, which were rendered by a Seattle-based French artist named Isa Darleans.
Awards and Recognition
Since Rautureau opened Rover's in 1987, the restaurant and chef have received local and national press recognition. Articles have appeared in such publications as Time Magazine, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, The Wine Spectator, Food Arts, Vancouver Magazine, Seattle Magazine, the New York Times, Sunset, USA Today, Seattle Times’ Pacific Magazine, the Seattle Post Intelligencer, Fortune, Business Week, and Art Culinaire. He has also been awarded the Chevalier de l’Ordre Du Mérite Agricole by the French Government and the award for The Best Chef in the Pacific Northwest by the James Beard Foundation.
List of Awards
- Seattle’s Top Food: Zagat 1993-2009
- Best Service in Seattle: Zagat 2002-2009
- Outstanding Food and Service: DiRoNa 1997-2005
- Distinguished Dining Ambassador: DiRoNA 2002
- Four Stars: Mobil Travel Guide 1998-2008
- Award Of Excellence: The Wine Spectator 1997-2002, 2008
- Best Chef in the Pacific Northwest: The James Beard Foundation Awards 1998
- Four Diamond Award: AAA 1998-2008
- Number One Top Seattle Choice: Gourmet Magazine 1996, 1998, 2000
- Restaurant of the Year, Readers’ Choice Award: Seattle Magazine 1998
- Top Fine Dining Restaurant in Seattle: The Wine Spectator 1998
- Best French Food in Seattle: Food & Wine September 1998
- Fine Dining Hall of Fame Award: Nations Restaurant News 1998
- Best Overall, Critics’ Choice Award: Seattle Magazine 2000, 2001
- Best Overall, Editors’ Choice Award: Where Magazine 2001
- Best Restaurant, Chefs’ Choice Award: Where Magazine 2001
- Best Seattle Restaurant: Northwest Palate Magazine 2000
- Best Overall Dining, Visitors’ Choice: Where Magazine 2002
- Best Washington Wine Reserve: Washington Wine Restaurant Awards 2003, 2004,2005
- Best Service, Readers’ Choice Award: Seattle Magazine 1999
- Best of Award Of Excellence: The Wine Spectator 2003, 2004, 2005
- Best Restaurant, Chefs’ Choice Award: Where Magazine 2004
- Best Overall Dining, Visitors’ Choice: Where Magazine 2004
- Best Service: Washington Wine Restaurant Awards 2004
- Best Restaurant in Seattle: Citysearch 2002
- Top Ten Best: Seattle Magazine 2005
- Best Romantic Restaurant: AOL City Guide 2005
- Best All-Around Restaurant: AOL City Guide 2005
- Thierry’s Induction Into: Les Maitres Cuisiniers de France 1998
- Chevalier de l’Ordre Du Mérite Agricole: The French Government 2004
Television and Radio Appearances
From 2003 to 2010, Rautureau was the co-host of the talk radio show “In The Kitchen with Tom and Thierry” with fellow chef Tom Douglas on KIRO 97.3FM. The two chefs conducted interviews with people in the food world, recounted recipes, gave a wine of the week and discussed food in the news.
In 2012, Rautureau and Douglas returned to KIRO Radio with "Seattle Kitchen," heard Saturdays at 2pm and Sundays at 10am on 97.3 FM in Seattle. After a few months of ratings success, the show was extended to two hours.
On television, Rautureau was featured on the Food Network's“Dining Around” and “Ready, Set, Cook!," Ming Tsai's “Simply Ming,” the PBS Series “French Fest," and the Discovery Channel series “ Great Chefs from the Great Cities." Rautureau has also been a celebrity chef judge for the PBS series “MasterChef USA."
Rautureau's most well-known television appearance is as a contestant on the second season of the Bravo reality series Top Chef Masters. Rautureau competed against Monica Pope (T'afia), Carmen González (Chef Consultant), David Burke (David Burke Townhouse), and the eventual winner of the season, Marcus Samuelsson (Red Rooster, Aquavit) in the second episode entitled "Top Chef Masters Season 2: It's My Party." The challenge for the chefs was to cook a meal inspired by soul food for actor Mekhi Phifer's birthday party. González and Samuelsson advanced, while Pope, Rautureau and Burke were eliminated.
In 2012, Rautureau returned as a contestant on season four of Top Chef Masters. He made it to the fifth round before being eliminated.
Rautureau is on the Board of Directors for Food Lifeline, a Western Washington non-profit that provides food to 675,000 people through food banks, hot meal programs, shelters, and more. Rautureau also participates in various other community and charity events and fundraisers, such as the opening of the Dale Turner YMCA in Shoreline, WA.
Rautureau is married to Kathleen Encell-Rautureau, a floral designer who also does arrangements for the restaurants. She was also the impetus for the chef's nickname. It was Kathy who gave Rautureau a fedora for Christmas, which he wore almost unceasingly. One evening, Rautureau entered the dining room at Rover's to speak with a guest without removing his hat. The guest exclaimed: “Look, it’s the Chef in the Hat!." Other guests overheard the comment, and the phrase eventually became his nickname.
- "The Story of the Chef in the Hat." The Chef in the Hat. 2010. Web
- Chou, Hsiao-Ching."Chef Rautureau Shares a Final Lunch with Pappy." Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 15 June 2005. 2010. Web. 
- Hambley, Nathan "Rautureau’s Luc Brings French-Spirited Kitchen and Bar to Seattle’s Madison Valley." May 2009. Frause. Print.
- "Best Eats in the Best Neighborhoods." Seattle Magazine. 2010. Web
- "1998 Best Chef: Pacific Northwest." The James Beard Foundation. 2009. 
- "Best Restaurants '10: Restaurants to Watch." Seattle Magazine. 2010. Web. 
- Robinson, Kathryn. "Luc's Place: A new bistro puts hospitality and great food at the top of the menu." Seattle Metropolitan August 2010. Web. 
- The Surly Gourmand. "Eating at Luc is Cheaper Than Funding NASA." Seattle Weekly 11 June 2010. Web. 
- "Rover's Restaurant." Zagat. 2010. Web. .
- "In the Kitchen with Tom and Thierry." MyNorthwest.com. 2010. Web
- Webster, Kerry. "Fresh Today." The Seattle Times. 29 May 1996. 2010. Web. 
- "Simply Ming." KQED TV. 2010. Web
- Hinterberger, John. "Rover's Thierry -- It's Likely This Madison Valley Chef Is Better Known In New York City." The Seattle Times. 1996. 2010. Web. 
- Hinterberger, Jerry. "New Bites." The Seattle Times. 10 August 1995. 2010. Web. 
- "MasterChef USA TV Show." Film.com 2008. Web
- "Top Chef Masters." Bravo TV. 2010. Web
- "It's My Party." Bravo TV. 2010. Web
- "Our Board of Directors." Food Lifeline. 2009. Web
- Food Lifeline. 2009. Web
- Ramirez, Marc. "Community Turns Out for Dale Turner YMCA Grand Opening." The Seattle Times 5 October 2008. Web. 
- "Frequently Asked Questions." The Chef in the Hat. 2010. Web