Chef Rich Lee to Assume Top Position of Legendary French-Creole Restaurant
Antoine’s in New Orleans announced today that Chef Rich Lee will serve as the restaurant’s newest executive chef, stepping into the role that Executive Chef Michael Regua commanded for the last 47 years. Chef Regua is currently helping transition Chef Lee until his retirement later this year.
“I am honored to continue the next chapter of Antoine’s legacy as executive chef. To serve at the helm of this legendary restaurant is a dream come true for me, as it would be for any chef,” said Chef Lee. “I am looking forward to continuing Antoine’s tradition of French-Creole fine dining while also working with the team to establish some new features, menu items and specials. We can’t wait to serve our guests in 2019 and beyond.”
Originally from Charlotte, North Carolina, Chef Lee began his career in the U.S. Coast Guard, stationed in Panama City, Florida. After his time in the service, Chef Lee pursued his love of all things culinary and served as line cook and kitchen manager in the Panama City hospitality industry. His first big cooking opportunity arrived when he served as an executive steward for the U.S. Merchant Marines, sailing around the globe as the solo cook aboard his ship.
There he discovered his passion for all different types of cuisines as the ship would pull into each exotic port. He would buy provisions, visit the local restaurants and markets, and incorporate each region’s fresh produce, seafood, meats, spices and seasonings into the ship’s daily menu. His career blossomed after becoming a land-dweller again, rising to the rank of executive chef over the next decade in the finest restaurants, hotels and resorts in the Florida Panhandle.
After opening, creating the menus, and leading the teams at establishments such as the Saltwater Grill and the Boardwalk Beach Resort, Rich chose to broaden his culinary knowledge in the “front of the house”. Over the next 12 years, he worked in various management positions at high‐volume corporate restaurants in the Carolina markets.
He then moved to the culinary capital of New Orleans and was hired as a chef and trainer for Sodexo’s corporate division. He was quickly promoted to executive chef for Sodexo’s Energy and Resource division and ultimately served as senior manager of culinary development.
During his seven years with Sodexo, Chef Lee led a North American Chefs Council of Canadian and American chefs, creating menus and establishing relationships with Sodexo’s global teams in Trinidad and Tobago, Australia, the Bahamas, and Canada. He also served as Sodexo’s lead chef of their Mindful brand, which provides a healthier approach to a client’s standard menu offering.
“Determining who would assume the position of executive chef of Antoine’s after having our beloved Chef Mike with us for 47 years was a challenging, multi-year process that we did not take lightly,” said Antoine’s fifth generation CEO and Proprietor Rick Blount. “We interviewed incredible chefs and invested much time and effort into ensuring that the person who fills this role is truly up to the task and the right fit for our unique restaurant. Chef Lee impressed me not only with his extensive culinary knowledge, including his passion for French-Creole cuisine, but his understanding of high volume cooking and enhanced customer experience. While he has already mastered our classic dishes, we are excited to see where he will go with the menu. We could not be more excited to have him lead the kitchen at Antoine’s.”
Antoine’s, a traditional French Creole fine dining establishment since 1840, is the oldest family-owned, continually operating restaurant in the United States. It is located at 713 St. Louis Street in the historic New Orleans French Quarter. For more information, visit our website at www.antoines.com, like us on Facebook here, follow us on Instagram here, or call us at 504-581-4422 to make reservations if you prefer the phone to Open Table.