Vanguard of Modern American Haute Cuisine

Patrick Clark, who was credited for leading a generation of Americans to embrace a new style of casual but sophisticated French cooking, was born in Brooklyn in 1955, and by age 9 young Patrick was determined to make a perfect cheesecake.  His father was a chef at the Four Seasons in New York City and tried to discourage his son from becoming a chef, but to no avail.

Patrick attended his father’s alma mater, New York City Tech College.  He then joined the Culinary Arts Program at Bournemouth & Pool College in the UK.  He apprenticed at Braganza Restaurant in London, then mastered his skills under Michel Guerard’s Eugenie-les-Bains in France.  Subsequently, Patrick then returned to New York City as assistant chef at the new, hot Regine’s Club.

He first attracted attention in 1980 as Executive Chef at Odeon in TriBeCa where he received two stars from the New York Times at age 25, and later at both Odeon and Café Luxembourg, another of Keith McNally’s restaurants.  He is credited with helping inspire Michael Lomonaco as a chef.  Lomonaco, who was a would-be actor at the time, cooked as a hobby and supported himself as a driver for a limo service.  Michael would drive Patrick from the TriBeCa restaurant to his home.  In 1988 Patrick opened his own restaurant Metro on the Upper East Side, but closed it in 1990 due to the economy.  Patrick then moved to Los Angeles and became the Executive Chef of Restaurant Bice.

After a year, Patrick became homesick and returned to the east coast to run the restaurant in the luxury hotel, the Hay-Adams in Washington DC. In 1994, Patrick won the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef Award of the Mid-Atlantic.  He became the first African-American chef to receive the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef Award.  Hillary Clinton subsequently offered Patrick the job as Executive Chef of the White House, but he declined. In 1995 Patrick moved back up to New York City to run LeRoy Warner’s Tavern on the Green restaurant.

Two years later, he was forced to take a leave of absence to await a heart transplant that never occurred. He passed away in February of 1998 of congestive heart failure. 

Source: Great Chefs