Rich grew up in Westchester, New York. From a very early age he took to cooking. He had a strong passion and he loved the feel of the kitchen. He followed this feeling straight to his first restaurant at age fifteen. It was all rice pilaf and shrimp cocktail at the Chart House restaurant on the Hudson River. After 2 years at the Chart House he did a stint at the Kittle House in Chappaqua, New York. The Kittle House opened his eyes to a level of cuisine and professionalism that was significantly higher. He had an epiphany and realized there was a tremendous amount more to learn than he had previously thought. The next stop was an education at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.
After a successful externship at Marcus Samuelsson’s Aquavit, Rich continued to work at Aquavit for the next two years while completing his bachelor’s degree at the C.I.A. He left Aquavit with some seasoned New York cooking experience and a touch of Chef Marcus’s flair for presentation. With graduation upon him Rich knew one thing, all he wanted to do was cook, and cook with the absolute best of them. After trailing in many kitchens he realized that it was Daniel Boulud that had what he was looking for. The kitchen was Café Boulud and the chef was Andrew Carmellini. Chef Carmellini would become his mentor and be the most influential person in his career thus far. Rich spent over 3 years at Café Boulud climbing the ladder to the top. He took his time to learn the best techniques and accepted no shortcuts or compromises. It was at the end of his tenure at Café Boulud that he knew it was time for him to travel to France and cook in as many Michelin starred restaurants as possible. Daniel had put together a trip for the young chef that would change the way he viewed food, culture, and cooking. A six month trip working at several world class establishments such as Guy Savoy in Paris and Michel Troisgros in Roanne was a dream come true. A short stint in Italy concluded the trip.
Upon returning home, the call came from Chef Carmellini to once again team up in a new project called A Voce. It was to be a restaurant fashioned in the style of what Chef Carmellini called “urban Italian.” Rich was now the Executive Sous Chef, a very important role that he grew into quickly. A Voce quickly received 3 stars from the New York Times and critical acclaim. After over 2 years at A Voce and 6 with Chef Carmellini, Rich knew it was time to leave the comfortable side of his mentor and go out on his own.
In 2009, with partner Mario Carbone, he opened a deli on Mulberry Street called Torrisi Italian Specialties where they served their own take on classic Italian-American sandwiches. The deli quickly evolved and began serving an innovative prix fixe dinner in the evenings, and the rest is history. Torrisi Italian Specialties received two stars from The New York Times, and was nominated by the James Beard Foundation as one of the Best New Restaurants in America.
In 2010, he and partner Mario Carbone, teamed up with Jeff Zalaznick, a fellow restaurant visionary who shared their passion. They formed a restaurant group, called Major Food Group (MFG), and have not looked back. Since then, they have spun off the initial Torrisi Italian Specialties deli concept into it's own restaurant called Parm. Parm is a casual restaurant concept that focuses on classic Italian-American dishes with a focus on small plates and sandwiches. MFG has opened two Parm locations, one on Mulberry Street in Nolita and the other at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. In 2012, Parm received two stars from The New York Times, becoming the only sandwich-focused restaurant to currently have this honor. Soon after opening Parm, they closed and renovated Torrisi Italian Specialties, and reopened it as a boutique tasting room. It no longer has a deli, and it now focuses full time on a seven course Tasting Menu and a twenty course Chef’s Tasting Menu. This restaurant takes its cues from Italian- American heritage, but draws inspiration from every corner of New York City. Amongst many accolades, in 2011, it was ranked the #1 Italian restaurant in New York by New York Magazine.
In 2012, he was bestowed with the ultimate honor, when Food & Wine Magazine awarded him the distinction of Best New Chef in America.
In 2013, MFG set their sights on another ambitious venture: resurrecting Italian- American fine dining. Carbone opened in March 2013 in the legendary Rocco’s Restaurant space on Thompson Street. Upon opening, Carbone received a dazzling five out five stars from Time Out New York and four and a half stars from Bloomberg. In June 2013, Carbone received its’ greatest honor and was awarded three stars from The New York Times. Carbone focuses on serving delicious, exceptionally well-prepared Italian-American food in a setting that is simultaneously elegant, comfortable and unpretentious.
Located on the same block as Carbone in Greenwich Village, ZZ’s Clam Bar opened in June 2013 and reflects a passion for raw fish and well-crafted cocktails. Serving only the highest quality ingredients, ZZ’s is an intimate space and a study in raw fish and cocktails from around the world. ZZ’s Clam Bar received three stars from GQ Magazine and Bloomberg and was credited by The New York Times for ushering in a new age of raw eating in New York City.
In addition to their current ventures, MFG was awarded the privilege of opening a new restaurant under the High Line in collaboration with Friends of the High Line and The City of New York. MFG is also working on a new hotel/restaurant project at the Ludlow Hotel in New York’s Lower East Side.
Rich currently lives in Greenwich Village.