Michael Chow (restaurateur)

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Michael Chow
Born (1939-03-07) 7 March 1939 (age 80)
OccupationRestaurateur, interior designer, actor
Years active1958-2009
  • Grace Coddington
    (m. 1968; div. 1969)
  • Tina Chow
    (m. 1972; div. 1990)
  • Eva Chun Chow
    (m. 1992; div. 2018)
  • Vanessa Rano
    (m. 2019)
Children3, 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 Chinese-born British-American restaurateur, interior designer, and former actor.[1] He is the co-founder and owner of the Mr. Chow restaurant chain.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8]

Life and career[edit]

Chow was born in Shanghai as Zhou Yinghua.[9] 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.[10]

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.[11] Chow studied art in London before embarking upon a business career in parallel to 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?"[12] His restaurants have been widely panned by food critics, but remain popular for decades due to their ability to attract celebrities with the allure of fancy dining and intentionally high prices.[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[13] 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 City 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, first to Grace Coddington (1968–1969) (divorced), then to the American-born Tina Chow (1972–1990) (divorced), to Eva Chun Chow (1992–2018) (divorced), and to Vanessa Rano (2019–). 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. Eva filed for divorce on 3 August 2017.

Michael Chow has three children: China Chow and Maximillian Chow with Tina Chow; and Asia Chow with Eva Chun. Maximillian is the head of culinary operations at the restaurants.[9]



  1. ^ The New York Times
  2. ^ The New York Times
  3. ^ The Los Angeles Times
  4. ^ The Los Angeles Times
  5. ^ "Crocodile love at Mr. Chow". LA Times Blogs - All The Rage. 2010-11-17. Retrieved 2018-03-02.
  6. ^ The Los Angeles Times
  7. ^ New York Magazine
  8. ^ "How Mr Chow became an art world mecca". CNN Style. 2018-02-22. Retrieved 2018-03-02.
  9. ^ a b c Sky-High Prices? Bad Reviews? No Matter: Mr. Chow Powers On, The New York Times, August 31, 2016, accessed August 31, 2016.
  10. ^ Sfgate.com
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ "Mr. Chow Celebrates Its Thirtieth Anniversary with Brooke Shields, Hamish Bowles and Other Fashion Folk". The Wall Street Journal. 4 November 2004.
  13. ^ Finch's Quarterly Review Archived 2011-05-28 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]