CHARLOTTE, N.C. – February 19, 2018 – Leading the culinary charge at The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte is the recently-appointed Executive Chef Richard Gras, whose passion for farm-to-table cuisine and sustainability is the ideal match for the LEED-Gold certified hotel.
A graduate of Johnson and Wales University, Chef Richard began his career with The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company in Amelia Island at The Grill Restaurant, where he found a mentor in Chef Scott Crawford. During his time at the resort, he acted as a sous chef at the Southern-inspired Café 4750, and opened the four-star, five-diamond Salt. He brings myriad experience to the table, including his role in Navio’s Michelin recommendation at The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay, and the opening of the J&G Grill – named for owner Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. After acting as the executive chef at the top 40 Oak Restaurant in Dallas, he continued to DINE at Pier A in New York City, and held the position of executive sous chef at the Omni Resort in Amelia Island.
Crawford ignited in Chef Richard a passion for local flavors, which plays an integral role in his new menu development. Crawford stressed the relationship between the chef and the farmer, which inspired Chef Richard to look local. Signature dishes at K Lounge and The Punch Room will incorporate herbs from the hotel’s rooftop garden, as well as other local farm-fresh ingredients.
“Chef Scott Crawford always told me to put the same love into making the food as the farmer did growing it,” Chef Richard says. “When you prepare food that’s been handled less, the quality of the overall product is better. We need to support local farms to keep the industry going.”
Inspired by Southern tastes and interactive elements, each dish will act as a work of art to stimulate conversation and awe. At K Lounge, Chef Richard will draw on North Carolina’s position as a top pork-producing state to wow guests with a distinct presentation. Crispy pork belly – accompanied by a seasonal side and topped with a sweet tea gastrique – will be served in a smoking box, which will release a distinct southern aroma when opened. At The Punch Room, a hybrid caviar dish will accompany craft cocktails, featuring fritters prepared from local potatoes complemented by Ritz-Carlton signature caviar.
Chef Richard looks forward to giving the hotel its own branded taste, complete with a “Rooftop Hot Sauce” crafted from chilies grown on the hotel’s rooftop garden. His process of testing and perfecting a complete line of branded North Carolina hot sauce will soon be complete, and will feature Carolina Reapers, one of the world’s hottest chili peppers. Chef Richard will share a taste of the Southern state with guests by localizing amenities, with favorites including NC Cheerwine treats, Carolina craft beer, local cheese, and honey madeleines featuring the hotel’s rooftop honey.
“I’m excited to use local flavors to reenergize the character of North Carolina,” Chef Richard says. “I want to keep the product as close to the farm as possible.”
The AAA Five Diamond Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte is located at 201 East Trade Street in the heart of Charlotte, North Carolina. For further information about the hotel, K Lounge and The Punch Room, please call +1-704-547-2244, visit www.ritzcarlton.com/charlotte or engage directly with the hotel at https://www.facebook.com/ritzcarltoncharlotte. For room reservations, call 1-800-241-3333 or contact a travel professional.