Michael Chow (restaurateur)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Michael Chow
Born (1939-03-07) 7 March 1939 (age 83)
Occupation(s)Restaurateur, interior designer, actor, painter
Years active1958–present
(m. 1968; div. 1969)
(m. 1972; div. 1989)
Eva Chun Chow
(m. 1992; div. 2017)
Vanessa Rano
(m. 2019)
Children5, including China Chow
Parent(s)Zhou Xinfang
Lilian Qiu
RelativesTsai Chin (sister)

Michael Chow (simplified Chinese: 周英华; traditional Chinese: 周英華; pinyin: Zhōu Yīnghuá; born 7 March 1939) is a British Chinese restaurateur, interior designer, artist and former actor.[1] Chow, also known as M, is the co-founder and owner of the Mr Chow restaurant chain.[2][3] He has appeared in numerous films, held solo art exhibitions and worked as an architectural designer.

Life and career[edit]

Chow was born Zhou Yinghua in Shanghai.[4] 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 an actress and erstwhile Bond girl Tsai Chin.[5]

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 spent his adolescence in Europe; after arriving in London in 1952, he was never able to speak to nor see his father again.[6] In 1956, Chow studied at Saint Martin’s School of Arts and the following year at the Hammersmith School of Building and Architecture.[7] He had a career as a painter in parallel with his acting career. He had multiple gallery shows across London, including at the Institute of Contemporary Arts.[8]

Chow 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. Chow then came up with a concept to open a restaurant that offer Chinese food served by Italian waiters, and with a menu the British could understand.[citation needed] Sutherland backed his 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 Mr Chow opened in Knightsbridge, London in February 1968, serving Pekinese cuisine. Chow bought art by Allen Jones, Peter Blake, Patrick Caulfield, David Hockney and Jim Dine[9] for the walls, which became as celebrated as the food. The partners opened three other Mr Chow restaurants in London before Chow bought Sutherland out and moved to New York.[citation needed] His restaurant chain has expanded to places such as Las Vegas, Miami, New York City and Beverly Hills.[10][11]

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?"[12] His restaurants have been widely panned by food critics, but have remained popular for decades due to their ability to attract celebrities with the allure of fancy dining and intentionally high prices.[4][13][14][15]

Chow was appointed to the 12-member board of governors for Eli and Edythe Broad's three-story, $140 million contemporary art museum, The Broad, in downtown Los Angeles.[16]

From an early age, Chow 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, and his home in Holmby Hills, Los Angeles.[17][18]

In 2011, Chow returned to his passion for painting with the encouragement of his friends, gallerist Jeffrey Deitch and artist Julian Schnabel.[8] In 2014, his first solo exhibition was held at Pearl Lam Galleries in Hong Kong.[19] His major solo exhibition in 2016 at the Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art in Beijing was an homage to his father, Zhou Xinfang.[20][8]

Personal life[edit]

He has been married four times, first to Grace Coddington (1968–1969),[21] then to Tina Chow (1972–1989)[22][23] and third to Eva Chun Chow (1992–2017).[24] His first three marriages ended in divorce and he has been married to Vanessa Rano since February 9, 2019.[24]

Michael Chow has five children: China Chow and Maximillian Chow with Tina Chow; Asia Chow with Eva Chun; Phoenix Chow and Skye Chow with Vanessa Rano. Maximillian is the head of culinary operations at the family restaurants.[4]



  1. ^ "Michael Chow". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Baseline & All Movie Guide. 2013. Archived from the original on 21 June 2008. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  2. ^ Pettera, Angela (28 May 1998). "The Modern Mr. Chow". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  3. ^ Larocca, Amy (28 April 2006). "The Sayings of Chairman Chow". New York. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  4. ^ a b c Gordinier, Jeff (31 August 2016). "Sky-High Prices? Bad Reviews? No Matter: Mr. Chow Powers On". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 August 2016.
  5. ^ Johnson, G. Allen (18 March 2007). "Culture Blog!: A chat with Tsai Chin". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  6. ^ Blasberg, Derek (16 February 2018). "Restaurateur Michael Chow and Mr. Chow Celebrate 50 Years at the Center of Art and Dining". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 16 February 2018.
  7. ^ "M aka Michael Chow One Breath". Sotheby's.
  8. ^ a b c "Famed Restaurateur Michael Chow Is Finding Renewed Success as an Artist". Galerie. 25 June 2020. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  9. ^ "Getting the Picture". Finch's Quarterly Review. Archived from the original on 28 May 2011. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  10. ^ Pellerin, Ananda (22 February 2018). "How Mr Chow became an art world mecca". CNN Style. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  11. ^ Hallock, Betty (15 July 2009). "Chow restaurant lawsuit: Too many Chows in the kitchen?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  12. ^ Kurutz, Steven (4 November 2004). "Mr. Chow Celebrates Its Thirtieth Anniversary with Brooke Shields, Hamish Bowles and Other Fashion Folk". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  13. ^ Vesilind, Emili (12 February 2010). "L'Oreal hosts a luncheon with Diane Keaton at Mr. Chow's". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  14. ^ Moore, Booth (17 November 2010). "All The Rage: Crocodile love at Mr. Chow". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  15. ^ Bruni, Frank (28 June 2006). "New Mr. Chow, Same Formula". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  16. ^ "A Sneak Peek of The Broad, Eli Broad's New $140 Million Art Museum". Haute Living. 19 September 2013. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  17. ^ "Episode 3: Every Detail is The Universe- Michael Chow's Design for Giorgio Armani". Rodeo Drive. 31 January 2021. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  18. ^ "Michael Chow Tells AD What Inspired the Designs of His Homes and Restaurants". Architectural Digest. 14 November 2019. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  19. ^ "Double Life: Restaurateur Michael Chow's first solo show of his paintings". Wallpaper. 14 January 2014. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  20. ^ Qin, Amy (2 February 2015). "A Different Kind of Opening". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  21. ^ "Grace Coddington: creative indeed". 1843. 26 November 2012. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  22. ^ "Ciao Tina". Maureen Orth. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  23. ^ "Michael Chow's empire". W Magazine | Women's Fashion & Celebrity News. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  24. ^ a b Stuart, Gwynedd (12 February 2019). "Inside Mr. Chow's Fabulously Over-the-Top Nuptials". Los Angeles Magazine. Retrieved 25 May 2020.

External links[edit]