Michel Richard, the influential chef behind the restaurant Citronelle housed at the Santa Barbara Inn from the late 1980s through the 1990s, died at age 68on Saturday in Washington, D.C., of complications from a stroke. Richard inspired an entire generation of chefs and restaurateurs who’ve run some of Santa Barbara’s best kitchens, among them the Wine Cask’s Alex Castillo and David Cecchini, Charlie Fredrick of Bouchon, James Sly of Sly’s in Carpinteria, Empty Bowls’ Jerry Lee, as well as Felicien Cueff.

Born in 1948 in Brittany, France, Richard trained as a pastry maker under the legendary Gaston Lenôtre; he came to the U.S. to open Lenôtre’s first stateside restaurant, Château France, in Manhattan in 1974. Santa Barbara’s Citronelle was an offshoot of his Los Angeles restaurant Citrus, and Richard eventually established numerous restaurants on both coasts, with his last being Central in Washington, D.C.


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