Larger-than-life restaurateur Sirio Maccioni — the man behind seminal French fine dining restaurant Le Cirque, and one of New York’s grandest maitre d’s — has died. He was 88.
Eater has reached out to his son Mauro for more details, though early reports say it was not due to COVID-19.
Maccioni immigrated to New York from Italy and worked at restaurants before opening Le Cirque in 1974. The restaurant became known as one of the city’s top fine dining restaurants, and some of New York’s most acclaimed chefs spent time in its kitchen, including Daniel Boulud, David Bouley, Geoffrey Zakarian, Jacques Torres, and Michael Lomonaco. In 2013, Esquire magazine wrote that “no restaurant in America, perhaps the world, has graduated so many renowned chefs as Le Cirque.”
But the food was almost secondary to the charisma of Maccioni, who built an empire and attracted the most powerful and famous people in New York to his dining room. Luminaries, politicians, and celebrities all made their way to the restaurant, from the Reagans and the Clintons to Sofia Loren and Alec Baldwin. The consummate host — whose restaurant didn’t always treat folks equally — eventually wrote a memoir and made many appearances on television and in film, including a documentary called Le Cirque: A Table in Heaven.
The original Le Cirque moved locations and eventually closed in late 2017. Over the years, it became less known for the food — and had problems like bankruptcy, as well as sexual harassment lawsuit and wage lawsuits — but it continued to be a destination for the well-heeled. Now, there’s no longer an outpost in New York, but Maccioni and his wife Egidiana and children Mario, Marco, and Mauro have since expanded the brand around the world. There have been locations in Las Vegas, New Delhi, and Dubai.
Stay tuned for more.
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This picture says it all. I was just a line cook Circa early 1980’s, at the age of 24 In the kitchens of Le Cirque NYC. Sirio Maccioni on the far left in the suit ran the most sophisticated and notable restaurant for over 30 years. Those that passed through his doors learned about food, hospitality and family directly from him, the one and only. ⠀ ⠀ He was and will forever be our mentor. An exacting host, a loyal human and more importantly, a second father to me for the five years I was fortunate enough to work under him. I had no idea the significance this magical place would have on me and the list of careers he touched is enormous. ⠀ ⠀ This first photo took place after a crazy Le Cirque lunch service with Sirio, three star Michelin Chef Alain Chapel, in the chef’s coat my cooking mentor, Alain Sailhac, myself and three star Michelin chef Paul Bocuse. ⠀ ⠀ I take everything he taught me and hold it dear each time I walk into the kitchen. From a line cook, to the the second photo as Sous Chef 5 years later, may you Rest In Peace to a great man and leader, you now have the best table in the house.
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A true legend in our business has passed away. My heart and thoughts go to him and the Maccioni family in New York and Montecatini! I had the chance to be Sirio’s chef @lecirquenyc for 6 years 86 to 92 .I owe him all the respect and admiration for all that he did for me and my career as a chef. No one in the business was more elegant, savvy, and confident in running the dining room of #lecirque. Sirio always gave me a lot of energy to cook my heart out in the kitchen. He gave me the chance to learn how to be a great chef, and a great host. #GrazieSirio #theringmaster My love and condolences go to his family and loved ones! @egidianamaccioni ❤️
Good bye to a “Grande Maestro “ of the Italian restaurant scene in NY and all over the world. Thank you for your many contributions . RIP Sirio Maccioni pic.twitter.com/jWtAhmsij4— Lidia Bastianich (@LidiaBastianich) April 20, 2020
With the death of Sirio Maccioni we have lost the canniest,most intuitive restaurateur of them all.A natural showman, Sirio masterminded an upwardly mobile, well-heeled clientele with insights such as realizing rich people love freebies.— Mimi Sheraton (@mimisheraton) April 20, 2020
Condolences to Egi and his 3 charming sons