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Rick Moonen was meant to be a chef. His energy, passion for food, and passion for and making others happy are personality pre-requisites. Rick got his first taste of life in a kitchen when he joined the Culinary Institute of America in 1976. He graduated first in his class, spent some time at The Escoffier Room, and apprenticed at L’Hostellerie Bressane in Hillsdale, NY.

His 2 years at La Cote Basque, alongside a young Charlie Palmer, gave Rick more experience as a saucier. He left his home city briefly on a stint as a sous chef in the Key West resort area, but New York beckoned him home. He returned to a position at world famous Le Cirque working with Alain Sailhac. In the ensuing years, Rick stayed in New York and was a chef at Le Relais, Century Café and Chelsea Central before accepting the Executive Chef position at The Water Club in 1988. He commanded the popular seafood restaurant for six years, eventually taking an offer of Executive Chef and restaurant partner at Oceana. He received countless accolades, and three stars from a review in The New York Times.

Rick dreamed of having his own restaurant, and he realized that goal twofold in the fall of 2002, when he opened rm and Branzini with partners Matthew and Richard Harriton.

This seafood specialist can be found on his downtime deep sea fishing or walking the aisles at The Fulton Fish Market at four o’clock in the morning. His passion for seafood is well known and well appreciated by his patrons.

Moonen has been a frequent guest on many television shows such as Today, Good Morning, America, CBS’s The Early Show and on several Food Network shows such as Cooking Live with Sara Moulton.

Moonen received the 1993 Chef of the Year Award for the Northeast Region from Chefs in America, is a member of the Corporation of the CIA, is a member of the Wildlife Conservation Society, is a founding member of The Seafood Choices Alliance, and has been a spokesperson for several foods and nationally known food products. He is the American representative for Oliviers & Co., an importer of fine olive oils and olive oil products. Rick also writes, as contributing editor to Food & Wine Magazine. He is actively involved in charitable organizations and events, such as AIWF’s “Days of Taste” children’s program and Share our Strength’s Restaurant Committee.

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