Friday, August 17, 2012

Steven Richter, 1938- 2012

Last night I lost a great friend, my cousin Steven Richter, who passed away at the too-young age of 74. Steven was my dad’s first cousin, making him, well, my first cousin once removed. But whatever the family tree, we had developed a nice friendship as adults, once I actually met him. You see, I had never known Steven as a kid - he had long ago moved out west, and by the time I was old enough to know my cousins, he was long gone.

It was only after I moved back to New York City in 1994 that we connected and formed a nice sort of kinship. I was coming “back home” after a couple of decades in California; back to New York to attend cooking school and start on a new journey. And fortuitously, there was Steven, unbeknownst to me the partner of long-time food writer and Insatiable Critic Gael Greene, no less. It was through the two of them that I got my first job cooking in a high-class restaurant in Tribeca – and I still don’t know whether to thank them or curse them out!

Whatever the case, Steven and Gael were always gracious and inviting to me, and then to Significant Eater and me once we became a team. We’ll never forget how they invited us, on our first trip to Italy,  into their Venice apartment during one of their multi-month voyages to a far-flung locale; nor how excited Steven was as he took the two of us around and shared his magical Venice with us – Gael even had to remind him to let us have some time alone!

Then there was that trip to Paris one Thanksgiving, while they were staying on the Boulevard Raspail and Significant Eater and I were staying at, let's just say, a less fashionable address. Nevertheless, we all had a fine time, whether wandering through the Musee d’Orsay or dining at a small bistro just off the Boulevard.

And in New York…well, meals too many to count. Adventures too – Steven and me driving out to Coney Island in the middle of the winter to take pictures (and eat pizza at Totonno’s)…his photographs were always special, and I’m still the proud owner, via some fun bartering, of his classic Nikon N-70 camera, though glad I don’t have to schlep that monster around with me any more.

I also became close to another of my cousins via Steven – his son Nico, whom I had never had the pleasure of meeting until Steven and I got to know each other. A Colorado born and raised kid, Nico would visit his dad occasionally and that’s how we connected. Funny how life works that way.

Not much more to say – thanks for the great times and all the memories we’ll cherish, Steven. And rest in peace, my brother.

Read Gael Greene's fabulous tribute to Steven.

Some of Steven's work may be seen here.

Some pix over the years...
Steven and Nico
Steven and Significant Eater
Steven and Mitch
Steven and Eddie S.
Birthday Mid 2000's 
Steven and Nico
At the Met


  1. Nicely done Mitch.

    Sorry for your loss.

  2. Nice tribute. Sorry for your loss. A nice way to honor him with your memories.

  3. So sad to hear this. Lovely post. Big hugs to you, Sig and Gael.

  4. Mitch, what a terrible loss. I know how much you enjoyed him; and it was so exciting how they introduced you to a unique part of the food world. Hopefully the heartbreak will fade, and you will just be left with great memories.
    Ed and Nora