Patrick O’Connell is a self-taught chef who pioneered a regional American cuisine in a tiny Virginia village 67 miles west of Washington DC. His alliance with local farmers and artisanal producers was an adaptation born of necessity more than 40 years ago when nothing but milk was delivered to the town of “Little Washington,” VA (pop. 133). O’Connell, a native of Washington DC opened The Inn at Little Washington in 1978 in a former garage on the corner of Main and Middle Streets. It has evolved from a simple country inn to an international culinary shrine. Chef O’Connell is now referred to as “the Pope of American cuisine.”
Selecting The Inn at Little Washington as one of the top ten restaurants in the world. Patricia Wells of The International Herald Tribune hails O’Connell as “a rare chef with a sense of near perfect taste, like a musician with perfect pitch.”
Patrick and The Inn have enjoyed enormous national and international recognition. He is the author of three books. Governor Mark Warner stated, “Not since Thomas Jefferson first brought tomatoes to Virginia and the New World has one man created such interest in the culinary arts.”
O’Connell was asked to cook for Queen Elizabeth at the Governor’s Mansion in Richmond on her visit to Virginia in 2007. Through Relais & Chateaux he staged a dinner celebrating the coming of age of American Cuisine in Paris. He participated along with Alice Waters, Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, and Charlie Trotter in the “American Food Revolution” in Oxford, England. He has appeared on Good Morning America, The Today Show, the CBS Early Show, the Martha Stewart Show, Top Chef, the Diane Rehm Show, the Charlie Rose Show. He is a frequent guest speaker at The Smithsonian Institution and The Culinary Institute of America.
- O’Connell was one of the original inductees into “Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America.”
- The Inn became America’s first five-star country house hotel and the first establishment in the mobile travel guide’s history to receive two five-star awards; one for its restaurant and the other for its accommodations.
- The Inn also received AAA highest accolades: two five-diamond awards.
- O’Connell and The Inn have won six James Beard Foundation awards:
- Restaurant of the Year in 1993
- Best Chef in the mid-Atlantic region
- Best Wine Service
- Outstanding American Chef Award in 2001
- In 2019 the Beard Foundation honored Patrick with the Lifetime Achievement Award which is bestowed on someone “whose lifetime body of work has had a positive and long-lasting impact on the way we eat cook and/or think about food in America.”
- This year President Trump presented Patrick with the National Humanities Medal and called him “one of the greatest chefs of our time who has raised the culinary arts to new heights of excellence by embracing regional flavors and championing local farmers.”
- Chef O’Connell has received an Honorary Doctorate Degree in the Culinary Arts from Johnson and Wales University.
- The Michelin Guide awarded The Inn at Little Washington Three Michelin Stars in the 2019 guide. The Inn has retained this distinction each year.
- In 2021, The Inn at Little Washington was awarded the Michelin Green Star for sustainability and was the only recipient of the distinction in the Washington Guide.