Michael Lomonaco, Chef/Director - Biography

Chef Michael Lomonaco has always put his passion for pristine, seasonal, regional American ingredients first. No matter where he cooked, it was the choice of ingredients that were primary, followed closely by a firm understanding of classical technique and, of course, that creative genius that has always set him apart.

The course of Michael's career traces the thread of New American cuisine, as it has been developed and refined over the last few decades. In the mid '80s, he was in the center of it all at Le Cirque, working under Master Chefs Alain Sailhac and Daniel Boulud. By 1989, Michael was playing a major role in the revitalization of the old New York establishment "21." He stayed on there until 1996, turning the rather staid, clubby restaurant into a modern American culinary destination that helped to redefine fine dining in this country.

In 1997 Lomonaco was appointed Executive Chef/Director of Windows on the World. He brought his cutting-edge American cuisine with him, replacing what had been a French-inspired menu with food that made diners and critics take note. Michael eagerly took on responsibility for all culinary operations at the Windows on the World complex, including the main dining room, the intimate Wild Blue and the boisterous Greatest Bar on Earth. In addition, he managed the kitchens for and oversaw the Windows' private dining menus and operations.

At Wild Blue, Lomonaco invented a straightforward American menu that offered diners a chance to share a casual meal made with the finest ingredients and cooked with precision. At Windows, his menus underscored a dedication to expressing "the American spirit," with food that was confident, creative, and filled with the best local products obtainable. Through Michael's leadership, Windows On The World was transformed into one of America's best-loved and highest grossing restaurants three years in a row.

During his time at Windows on the World, Michael helped owner David Emil develop the wildly successful Latin Night, which gave diners a first taste of the duo's passion for Latin American cuisine, culture, and music. Latin Night sparked the creation of Noche, with Lomonaco as Chef/Director of this multi-story, midtown restaurant and nightclub featuring the vibrant culinary traditions of Central and South America and the Caribbean. Many former employees of Windows on the World in the World Trade Center were hired at Noche when it opened in 2002. That restaurant closed in September 2004, and Chef Lomonaco has now moved to Guastavino's between 1st and York Avenues on E. 59th St.

At the same time, you can always catch Michael Lomonaco on TV. A former actor who is at ease in front of the camera, Michael is the co-host of Epicurious, the Discovery Channel's popular cooking program. He has also hosted "Michael's Place" on the Food Network, writing concepts and recipes for 140 episodes over three years. Michael has been a regular guest on many late night and daytime talk shows as well as cooking programs including "In Julia's Kitchen with Master Chefs."

Chef Lomonaco is currently a visiting distinguished professor at City University's New York Technical College. He participates regularly in cooking demonstrations and food and wine events that benefit a world of good causes, including Share our Strength, City Harvest, and the March of Dimes. He is a primary founder of the Windows of Hope Family Relief Fund, which has gathered nationwide support.

Finally, Michael is the co-author of The "21" Cookbook, published in 1995 by Doubleday, and he has contributed to dozens of national magazines. His new cookbook, Nightly Specials: 125 Recipes for Spontaneous, Creative Cooking at Home (Wm. Morrow) has just been released.

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