Craig Richards

Executive Chef Craig Richards came to Atlanta in 2005 after five years of training under the renowned first lady of Italian cuisine, Lidia Bastianich. Bastianich, an acclaimed restaurateur and cookbook author with her own PBS cooking series, provided him with invaluable knowledge of the Italian kitchen. Richards began his culinary career in 1998 at Pachamama’s Restaurant in Lawrence, Kansas which featured a fusion of world cuisines. After a trip to Spain, he returned to the Midwest and decided to study the classic cuisine of Italy. From there, he took his new culinary ambition to Lidia’s Kansas City working his way up from lunch line cook to sous chef within a year and a half. In 2001, Richards moved to Pittsburgh to open Lidia's in Pittsburgh as the restaurant's Executive Sous Chef. He successfully opened this high-profile restaurant, helping build a team, menu, recipes and kitchen to the standards set out by Lidia and Joe Bastianich. In 2005, he accepted a job in Atlanta at La Tavola in the Virginia-Highlands neighborhood as he saw an opportunity to start cooking and developing his own style of Italian food. Over the next six years, Richards established La Tavola as a significant restaurant in the Atlanta market and one that provided simple, yet progressive regional Italian food. He continued his craft at Ecco expanding into Spanish, French and North African food. In 2014, Richards took on the challenge of opening Celebrity Chef and Restaurateur Ford Fry’s newest restaurant venture, St. Cecilia. After six months, Richards took over as Executive Chef and displayed the Italian trademarks that have always stood the test of time, but with versatile and local Southern ingredients. His simplicity met with sophistication catapulted the position of St. Cecilia in Atlanta’s dining scene and the restaurant was lauded by FOOD & WINE, Zagat, Southern Living, Forbes, Atlanta Magazine, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, as well as named one of the top restaurants in Atlanta by The Atlantan. In April of 2017, Fry promoted Richards to Vice President of Culinary for Ford Fry Restaurants. While still serving as Executive Chef at St. Cecilia, Richards took on consulting and leading the Executive Chefs of King + Duke, JCT Kitchen, Marcel, State of Grace (Houston), Beetlecat as well as the pastry production kitchen for all the restaurants in Atlanta. In the fall of 2018, Richards announced plans to partner with restaurateur Bill Streck (Hampton + Hudson; Nina & Rafi) to open Lyla Lila in the Lilli Midtown building in Atlanta in November 2019. Lyla Lila will highlight Richards' renowned approach with progressive regional Italian and Spanish cuisine.