After 47 years in the kitchen and 25 years in the role of executive chef, Michael Regua is retiring from Antoine’s Restaurant, one of the oldest family-run restaurants in the United States.
The French-Creole fine dining restaurant teased a “huge” announcement in a post to its Facebook page yesterday, with WGNO reporting late Tuesday night that the restaurant’s head chef was leaving. Today, Antoine’s introduced its new executive chef, Rich Lee, also via Facebook.
After serving as executive chef at various restaurants in Panama City, Florida, Lee landed in New Orleans seven years ago in the role of corporate chef for Sodexo.
Rick Blount, the fifth generation of the family that has owned Antoine’s since 1840, told Nola.com the process of picking its new executive chef was painstaking, and that while there were plenty of candidates strong enough for the job, he didn’t think they could “respect the tradition of Antoine’s.”
Regua started in Antoine’s kitchen as a prep cook in 1972 under executive chef John De Villes, taking the helm in 2005 when De Villes left the restaurant. In his years at Antoine’s, one of Eater’s essential restaurants, Regua has prepared meals for Presidents Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush, and Pope John Paul II.
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