Get to Know Our Michelin Chef: An Interview with Richard Chen

If you’re visiting Sacramento or are a local to the city, then Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento should be on your list of attractions to visit. When you walk through the doors at Fire Mountain, you will be greeted by the sounds of slot machines and cheers on the casino floor, a hotel experience like no other equipped with beautiful rooms and suites, and restaurants full of delicious dishes. But when it comes to vacation, there is one activity that everyone is willing to indulge in, and that is enjoying a nice meal together. At Hard Rock Sacramento, not only do we provide tasty dishes from a variety of cuisines, but we also have a Michelin Star Chef working right here at the property. 

Get to know a little more about Chef Richard Chen, how he became a Michelin Star Chef, and what he provides for all to enjoy at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Sacramento.

What is a Michelin Star Chef?

Gaining the Michelin Star status is a goal of restaurants and chefs from around the world, but what exactly are these Michelin stars, how do you gain them, and why are they so important?

It all started in central France in 1889 when two brothers founded a tire company called Michelin. In an effort to boost car sales and therefore tire purchases, the Michelin brothers began to produce a guide filled with helpful information for travelers such as maps, tips and tricks when road tripping, destinations not to miss, and much more as a way to encourage people to get out on the road. It wasn’t until 1920 that the new and improved Michelin Guide was published and introduced to readers as a travel guide for everything from local attractions to restaurant reviews for 7 francs a copy. As the guide began to gain traction, the restaurant reviews became a key aspect to the readers. The reviews were structured to be more focused on the quality, the flavor, the technique, and the artistic personality of the dishes served to guests, and in 1926 the guide began to award stars to these establishments. It wasn’t until 2005 that restaurants in the US became eligible to earn Michelin stars for their culinary pieces of art.

Now considered as the key endorsement of fine dining and delicious food, the Michelin Stars are what every great chef around the world aspires to obtain. However, the Michelin Stars are not an easy status to obtain. Not only do top chefs work towards it, but restaurant goers seek out these types of endorsements when looking for the best of the best for their dining experience. As Michelin continues to publish annual guides, they now focus and rate on over 30,000 establishments in 30 territories across three continents.

Explanation of the Michelin StarsSource

So how exactly is a Michelin Star awarded? Qualified restaurants are graded on a 1-3 star scale, with all stars holding value and considered an honor to the chef and the restaurant who earn them. Michelin Stars are awarded by the inspectors who complete their reviews anonymously. Think of them as the secret service of food. They are not allowed to talk to the press, are encouraged to keep their role secret, have a keen eye for detail, and have a strong passion for food of all kinds. To complete their review, inspectors write a report after their visit to discuss their experience, the quality of the food, the presentation, and the techniques that were used to enhance the overall service. Once reports are completed, the inspectors come together to discuss the reviews that have been conducted and begin to deliver star status.

Here’s what the Michelin star ratings look like and what is taken into consideration:

  • 1 Star: In its category, this restaurant is considered “very good” but is limited in one way or another. Even though this restaurant has a quality menu and prepares its dishes at a high standard, there is a unique element missing. Ultimately, this restaurant might be lacking a bit of creativity that would bring customers back for more.
  • 2 Stars: In its category, this restaurant delivers excellent dishes in a very unique way. Not only do they deliver something remarkable, but they make it easy for customers to want to take a detour just to enjoy the amazing food.
  • 3 Stars: In its category, this restaurant is not just a stop along the way, it is the destination. A notable cuisine, distinct dishes, and an execution that can only be described as perfection.

Chef Richard Chen’s Rise to Michelin Star Status

US-based, Taiwan-born, Chef Richard Chen began his career in 1986 as the chef at the La Vista International Hotel, also formerly known as the Marriott World Trade Center. After strengthening his culinary skills in New York and Chicago, Chef Chen became the executive chef at Wing Lei located inside Wynn Las Vegas. During his time in Las Vegas, he helped Wing Lei earn a Michelin star for two years in a row, positioning them as the only Chinese restaurant in North American to receive this honor and awarding Chef Chen his Michelin Star status.

As the Michelin-starred sous-chef at Hard Rock Sacramento, Richard Chen runs some of the best Asian Cuisine restaurants in Sacramento. Sòng and YOUYU Noodle Bar can both be found on-property at Fire Mountain and will keep you coming back for more! Get to know Michelin Star Chef Chen even more and understand what inspires him to provide only the best cuisine to the visitors of Sacramento. 

Whether you’re looking for steamed pork dumplings or your favorite BBQ pork fried rice, Hard Rock Sacramento has it all. Stop by the hotel and casino at Fire Mountain and enjoy the cuisine that Chef Chen is cooking up for his guests!