Ris Lacoste is one of the most respected and dedicated chefs working in Washington D.C. today, and has been a fixture on the culinary scene for almost two decades.
Prior to opening RIS, Lacoste served as executive chef of Georgetown’s celebrated 1789 Restaurant. Her innovative regional American fare drew national attention and earned numerous awards, including those from Wine Spectator, The Washington Post, Washingtonian, as well as nomination from the James Beard Foundation. The Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) named Lacoste “Chef of the Year” in 1999 (she was nominated again in 2005) and awarded 1789 Restaurant its “Restaurant of the Year” prize in 2000. She was one of three chefs to compete in the Food Network’s Iron Chef America in September 2005 and was Iron Chef for the D.C. Central Kitchen's (DCCK) Capital Food Fight in 2004 and 2005.
After earning a Grande Diplôme at the famous La Varenne Écôle de Cuisine in Paris, France, she worked briefly as sous chef for Buddy Bombard’s Great French Balloon Adventure in Burgundy, but eventually returned to her native New England and joined Chef Bob Kinkead at the Harvest Restaurant in Cambridge, MA. She helped Kinkead open 21 Federal in Nantucket, MA, in 1985 followed by Twenty-One Federal in Washington, D.C., in 1987. In January 1992, Washingtonian named them Restaurateurs of the Year. In 1993, as chef de cuisine, Lacoste opened Kinkead’s American Brasserie, which has become a D.C. dining institution. Lacoste has acted as a consultant to other District restaurant openings, including those of Vidalia, the Eye Street Café and Rock Creek at Mazza.
Lacoste is well known for her commitment to community involvement. She was an active member of the National Board of Directors for the American Institute of Wine and Food (AIWF), and has served as Chairman of its National Capital Area Chapter. She also sits on the board of RAMW, of DCCK and is a trustee of the Hospitality High School of Washington, D.C. Her professional affiliations and memberships include the Women’s Forum of Washington, D.C., Women Chefs and Restaurateurs, James Beard Foundation, and Les Dames d’Escoffier. She participates annually in fundraising efforts for the Ovarian Cancer Alliance, St. Jude Children’s Hospital, Share Our Strength, the Summer Opera Theater Company, Food and Friends in Washington, Tuberous Sclerosis, DCCK, and Second Genesis.
A talented educator committed to young people, Lacoste is a mentor for the students of Hospitality High School of Washington, D.C., a public charter school that focuses on enhancing the educational employment opportunities in the hospitality industry. She volunteers as a judge and internship mentor with Careers Through Culinary Arts Programs and works closely with L’Academie de Cuisine, where she assists in the continuing culinary development of their students.
Beyond the kitchen, Lacoste’s favorite place to be is in the middle of a local farmers’ market, hunting down the freshest fruits and vegetables and chatting with purveyors about their just-picked produce. These markets, where she frequently presents chef demonstrations, are not only a source of inspiration for her cuisine, but a meeting point for food lovers to talk about the importance of investment in the local community and dedication to the ideals of organic and sustainable farming.
Her latest and most personal venture is the culmination of a delicious career. At RIS, Lacoste serves a seasonal American menu that ties together her acute sensibility and style for diners in the Nation’s Capital she has grown to admire. It embodies her passion for bold flavor, her commitment to excellence and her genuine dedication to giving back to those who have given her so much.