Chef Patrick Clark was one of the first black professional cooks during the early 1980s who rose to stardom and fame. He was credited with being the first black chef in New York City to mix fine dining and bistro at the Odeon in Tribeca, also as being one of the first black chefs to apply French cooking techniques to American cuisine.
Clark was born and raised in the borough of Brooklyn, NY. He was the son of Melvin and Idella Clark. Melvin was a chef and taught his son how to cook. Despite his father’s warnings about being a chef was hard, Clark pursued his dream anyway. He enrolled in the hotel and restaurant program at New York City Technical Community College and refined his skills through stints at restaurants in London and France. In 1979, Clark married and the couple had five children.
As a black chef during the early 1980s, Clark shocked his white counterparts when he broke away from solely focusing on soul food such as; frying chicken and preparing pork dishes. Clark worked with his good friend, Chef Joe Randall, on quite a few projects, together they collaborating on events for the National Council of Negro Women. He also helped to coordinate the judges for the “Real-Men-Cook” Annual Gala.
In 1994, Clark won the James Beard Foundation award for “Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic Region.” Clark was well-known as being a role model, and his fame came less from being a black chef in a white field but from his outstanding talent. Clark died in 1998 at the young age of 42.