Geoffrey Zakarian is an Armenian-American Iron Chef, restaurateur, television personality and author. He is the executive chef of several restaurants in New York City, Atlantic City and Miami. He is featured on several shows on Food Network, including Chopped and in 2011, The Next Iron Chef, where he won the right to join Iron Chef America.
Zakarian was born in 1959 and raised in Worcester, Massachusetts. He began his culinary career with an associate's degree from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. As an apprentice chef, he began his work under chef Daniel Boulud at Le Cirque, where he was named "Chef de Cuisine" from 1982 to 1987.
In 1990, he became the executive chef at 44, a restaurant described by The New York Times as "trendy" and "chic," located at the Royalton Hotel in midtown Manhattan. William Grimes, also of The New York Times, described Zakarian as "... the reason that 44 in the Royalton Hotel was always a lot better than it needed to be..." in 2001. Previously, in 1992, 44 had received only 2 stars from The New York Times columnist Bryan Miller.
In 1996, he was hired to oversee Old Navy's ill-fated coffee bar and coffee cart division with David Brody of Z100 WHTZ. He then went on to work for the Blue Door of the Delano Hotel in South Beach, Florida, Miami.
In 1998, he became the executive chef at Patroon in Manhattan, which was awarded 3 stars (excellent) by NY Times critic Ruth Reichl. In the spring of 2000, Zakarian worked with Alain Passard, a renowned French chef at the three-Michelin star restaurant Arpège in Paris.
His style is described as "modern" with roots in French cuisine, or as he describes, "dynamic American." Zakarian owned two restaurants, Town and Country, both of which are in Manhattan. They have been rated with 3 stars by The New York Times. His restaurant Town was located in the East Side of Midtown Manhattan in the Chambers Hotel and opened in Spring 2001 but closed in 2009. Country is located in the Carlton Hotel near Madison Square Park and opened in 2005. The restaurant has earned a Michelin Star. Zakarian is now a consultant and executive chef at the Water Club in Atlantic City and The Lamb's Club in New York City, respectively.
In the spring of 2006, Zakarian released his first book, Geoffrey Zakarian's Town / Country. It had been named as "...one of the best of 2006" by The New York Times columnist Amanda Hesser. The book features 150 recipes for family, friends and "Life Around the Table."
In spring 2011, Zakarian filed for personal bankruptcy in response to a class action lawsuit against him by his former employees. The employees allege he engaged in repeated and gross violation of labor laws and are suing for back pay. Two of Zakarian's partners in the related restaurant support the workers' claims, but Zakarian's publicist denied the claims.
He has appeared numerous times on Food Network's Chopped series as a judge with fellow restaurateurs Scott Conant, Chris Santos, Aarón Sánchez, Amanda Freitag, Marc Murphy and Alexandra Guarnaschelli since the show began and has also appeared in the Food Network's series "24 Hour Restaurant Battle", also as a judge. He has also been on Top Chef as a judge and has appeared in Hell's Kitchen.
Zakarian has also competed as a challenger on Iron Chef America in May 2010 where he faced Jaye Lowe and lost with a score of 57 to 43. Zakarian was named the winner of The Next Iron Chef in December 2011, defeating Elizabeth Falkner in the season finale. In January 2014, Zakarian became a co-host on the Food Network's series The Kitchen along with Jeff Mauro, Katie Lee, Marcela Valladolid and Sunny Anderson. Zakarian has also appeared on Cutthroat Kitchen as a judge ("Well, Hot Clam!") and contestant ("Judging Judges").
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