Sirio Maccioni of fine dining restaurant Le Cirque has died at the age of 88 due to natural causes. He passed away in his hometown Montecatini Terme in Tuscany, Italy.
Le Cirque opened in 1974, a product of Maccioni’s passion for the hospitality and restaurant business. Before the New York landmark, Maccioni worked on a transatlantic cruise liner before eventually becoming a maitre d’hotel at the “private social club” Colony Club in the ‘60s.
He is known for his charm and credibility, which are embodied in his restaurant often visited by celebrities and politicians—Frank Sinatra, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Richard Nixon and Julia Child are regulars—and even religious leaders such as Pope John Paul II, whom Maccioni served himself. In an article published by the New York Post, it referred to Le Cirque in the 1980s as “the restaurant [which] stood for shameless luxury, a crowd dressed to kill, and the idea that sharing a great meal among strangers can be life-affirming.”
As Alain Ducasse stated in Maccioni’s memoir “The Story of My Life and Le Cirque” and quoted in a Bloomberg article, “American chefs would not exist without Sirio. Why? Because the food of today is the food of the customer first and the food of a country second. Sirio was the first person to do that.”
Besides the nouvelle cuisine and celebrity clientele, the restaurant is notable for nurturing chefs with great potential. Some of the chefs who have lent their talents to the Le Cirque include Daniel Boulud, Jacques Torres, Terrance Brennan and Geoffrey Zakarian. As Alain Ducasse stated in Maccioni’s memoir “The Story of My Life and Le Cirque” and quoted in a Bloomberg article, “American chefs would not exist without Sirio. Why? Because the food of today is the food of the customer first and the food of a country second. Sirio was the first person to do that.”
Having worked in the industry for more than 40 years, both the restaurant and the owner received various accolades to commemorate their successes and struggles. In 2014, Maccioni received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the James Beard Foundation.
Though the original Le Cirque relocated and closed in late 2017, the restaurant has branched out to different locations around the world namely Las Vegas, New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Even before Maccioni’s passing, his sons Marco, Mario and Mauro have been hands-on with the business, learning the ropes and keeping the ball rolling.
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