San Diego Chefs
Chef Richard “Rich” Sweeney is widely recognized from his role on the fifth season of Bravo TV’s Emmy®-winning hit show Top Chef. Rich was born and raised in the restaurant business, having parents who owned bakeries and managed eateries in his native Long Island. A quick study, Sweeney proved his operations prowess in the bakery before heading to New York City where he climbed the restaurant ladder, ultimately building a solid foundation for a career in the culinary arts.
Upon heading to California in 2004, Rich enrolled in an intensive curriculum at the San Diego Culinary Institute, one of the Top 10 cooking schools in the U.S.---ranking #1 in his class. After graduation he was offered the opportunity to apprentice under prominent local chef, Chris Walsh— one of the originators of ‘small-plate’ dining in San Diego at Confidential Restaurant + Loft—and eventually Sweeney became one of the youngest established Executive Chefs in San Diego at the age of 27.
In June 2010 Sweeney fulfilled a lifelong dream when he opened his own restaurant, R Gang Eatery in Hillcrest. Through R Gang’s successful five-year run, Chef Rich received local and global praise, from San Diego Magazine’s “Best Restaurants” to features on LOGO TV, Food Network, The Travel Channel and Zagat.com, to Sweeney himself winning the coveted “Chef of the Fest” title at the 10th Annual San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival.
In 2014, Sweeney partnered on the opening of Florent Restaurant in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter. Currently, Sweeney lives in San Diego’s Hillcrest neighborhood with his husband Steve and two chocolate labs.