Chef Raphael Francois has joined the legendary Le Cirque restaurant in New York as its Executive Chef. Francois follows in the footsteps of exceptional talent who have worked at the restaurant throughout the years, including such celebrity chefs as Alain Sailhac, Daniel Boulud, Geoffrey Zakarian, Jacques Torres, Sylvain Portay, Sottha Khunn, Alain Allegretti, Pierre Schaedelin, and Christophe Bellanca, among others.

Before joining Le Cirque, the French-Belgian served as executive chef position at the Connaught Hotel in London, which was awarded 2 Michelin stars under his watch. Prior to his tenure in the United Kingdom, Raphael cooked in some of the top Michelin starred kitchens in Paris and Brussels and was mentored by distinguished chefs including Claude Lavallée, Michel Theurel (La Maison du Boeuf), Yves Mattagne (Sea Grill), Dominique Bouchet (Hôtel de Crillon) and Hélène Darroze (The Connaught).

“Chef Raphael Francois has impressed us from day one,” says Marco Maccioni, son of Le Cirque’s founder Sirio Maccioni. “His vision is spot on, and his technique and execution are exactly what we’ve been looking for. We couldn’t be more excited to have Chef Raphael take the helm at Le Cirque.”

Francois shares many similarities to several of his predecessors. He has accomplished top culinary accolades at a young age, has a European training and upbringing (a trait that deliberately has played a role in Sirio’s success in spotting talent) and has a strong passion to prove himself in one of the greatest food cities, and restaurants, in the world.

“My professional career has been focused on working in the most reputable establishments of Europe,” says Francois. “Joining the Maccionis at the world renowned Le Cirque restaurant here in New York is an honor.”

Francois’ vision for the kitchen matches the Maccionis’: simple, intuitive, contemporary and keeping the integrity of the product. He is planning an overhaul of the kitchen to upgrade techniques which will allow him to reinterpret, modernize and evolve the cuisine, including classic Le Cirque dishes. Francois will collaborate closely with the Maccioni family to create a menu mixed with Le Cirque classics and new dishes with his personal touches. Francois will introduce a new menu in early spring.

Le Cirque, which is located at One Beacon Court 151 East 58th Street in New York (between 3rd Avenue and Lexington), is currently celebrating its 40th anniversary. Reservations can be made by calling 212.644.0202.

Photos courtesy of Le Cirque