November 21, 2011 | Short Order
Chef Craig Hopson Leaves Le Cirque In January To Go On His Own
Sirio Maccioni says he has been interviewing chefs to take over the kitchen at Le Cirque come January when Chef Craig Hopson leaves to open his own place. Hopson took the range in 2008 after winning raves at One If by Land, Two if By Sea. He was the first American chef to run the kitchen for Sirio, and with Sootha Kuhn, one of just two non-French toques.
“I could stay. The family has been good to me. But I would be in the same place five years from now." Recently turned 40, Hopson feels the need “to create something of my own. I helped open Le Cirque in India and on the Holland American line. But here it would always be the Le Cirque menu.”
Hopson has found a spot on the lower east side, not far from Chinatown and is firming up commitments from investors. He thinks he would not open before summer.
At 79, with two of his sons trying to keep up with him, Maccioni is still the ring master of his circus on East 58th Street at lunch and dinner. He says both New York and Las Vegas restaurants are thriving and he’s excited about Le Cirque’s partnership with the Holland America line of cruise ships. “They copied our design and we found them chefs, some of our ex-cooks, some out of the kitchen.
The ship-board chefs worked with Hopson to re-create the legendary eatery's signature dishes – the lobster salad, côte de boeuf the and the crème brulee on the famous orange monkey plates – as well the whimsical ambiance.
On every voyage, the Pinnacle Grill will be transformed for at least one night into Le Cirque. Passengers will pay extra. There will also be Le Cirque recipe demonstrations in the on-board Culinary Center.
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