Chefs at Galatoire’s are stewards of a particular New Orleans tradition and for the past seven years that job has been in the hands of Michael Sichel.
Now Sichel says he’s ready to carry that experience to another chapter of his career.
In an interview with the Advocate, Sichel confirmed the news and said his last day at Galatoire’s will be next Tuesday, June 26 (John Georges, an owner of Galatoire’s, is also owner of the Advocate).
“It takes a long time to understand what Galatoire’s is,” said Sichel. “What I want to try take with me is the culture, the culture of Galatorie's. That’s what sets it apart. The restaurant has its own culture. If I can bring some of that with me, I think I’ll be doing it right.”
Melvin Rodrigue, president of Galatoire’s, wished the chef well on his move.
"We congratulate him, it’s a great opportunity for him," he said.
Rodrigue said he was in the process of looking for the right candidate for Galatoire's next executive chef, though he didn’t have a timeline for naming one.
“We’re confident in our bench strength to carry us for now,” he said of the kitchen’s staff.
Sichel arrived in New Orleans in 2005. Initially he was the chef at Indigo, but that promising restaurant on Bayou Road never reopened after Hurricane Katrina (it was later redeveloped as part of an arts center).
In the years since, he worked at 7 on Fulton, the Grill Room and other New Orleans restaurants before landing the executive chef position at Galatoire’s in 2011.
After Galatoire’s expanded in 2013 with the adjacent Galatoire’s 33 Bar & Steak, Sichel also led its kitchen. This newer restaurant, which is connected to the original Galatoire’s, takes a more modern approach.
Founded in 1905, Galatorie’s is an old line restaurant that serves a traditional menu of the region’s distinctive French Creole cuisine and fills a unique role in the city’s social rituals. While the main menu changes little, Sichel had opportunities to spread his culinary wings at the restaurant’s frequent special dinners and events.
In 2012, he and chef John Folse of Restaurant R’evolution traveled to London to cook for U.S. Olympic athletes and other visitors in a promotional trip for Gulf seafood after the BP oil spill. In 2013, Sichel was a contender on “Top Chef,” during the season when the Bravo show was filmed around New Orleans (local chefs Justin Devillier and Nina Compton also competed in that season).
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