Meet Our Team
Chef, Restaurateur, Author
Chef Rick Moonen has devoted his career to being the country’s top culinary advocate for sustainable seafood.
A native New Yorker, Moonen graduated first in his class from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York in 1978. He apprenticed at L’Hostellerie Bressane in Hillsdale, New York where he built both his confidence and experience working side by side with Chef Jean Morel.
From there, Moonen assumed the position of saucier at Manhattan’s La Cote Basque. This experience was followed by two years at Le Cirque working with the legendary Alain Sailhac. In the ensuing years, Moonen continued his career in New York, becoming executive chef at some of New York’s most iconic restaurants, including Le Relais, Century Café and Chelsea Central before joining Buzzy O’Keefe at The Water Club.
After six years, Moonen left to become executive chef and partner at Oceana where he helped garner the restaurant national recognition and three stars from The New York Times. His next step was partnering to create Molyvos, a Greek fish house, further demonstrating the range of his culinary skills. Here he brought Greek cuisine to another level, and Molyvos was the first Greek restaurant to earn three stars from The New York Times.
After five years Moonen decided to develop his own restaurant. As executive chef and owner of New York City’s rm, Moonen earned critical acclaim and, once again, received three stars from The New York Times. In 2005, he was drawn to the rapidly developing culinary scene in Las Vegas and closed his doors in New York City to bring his unique flavor and specialties of the seafood world to the West Coast.
In February 2005, Chef Moonen opened his multi-level restaurant Rick Moonen’s rm seafood at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. The lower level of the restaurant offers “State of the Art Sustainable Seafood” and a world-class sushi and raw bar. The upper level offers a more elegant dining experience featuring globally inspired cuisine from Chef Moonen’s fun and whimsical tasting and á la carte menus.
Since opening rm seafood, Chef Moonen has enjoyed national attention and acclaim. In 2008, Moonen accomplished a lifelong dream with the publication of his cookbook Fish Without a Doubt, a practical, hands-on guide to buying, preparing and cooking a wide array of fish. That same year, his Catfish Sloppy Joe was highlighted in Esquire magazine’s “Sandwich Encyclopedia”, prompting a guest spot on The Oprah Winfrey Show where he served the talk show queen this signature dish and earned the title of “Best Sandwich in America.” In 2009 he made a memorable appearance as a contestant on Bravo’s hit TV series Top Chef Masters, followed by a stint as a judge on Top Chef Las Vegas where his eponymous restaurant served as the location for the show’s popular “Restaurant Wars” episode – which led to an invitation to participate in the second season of Top Chef Masters where Moonen finished as runner-up – raising thousands of dollars for his charity of choice, Three Square.
When not behind the stove, Moonen can be found throughout the country educating about ocean conservation and the dangers of over fishing. As an industry leader, he has testified for environmental and sustainability policy issues in Washington, DC and New York. He is a founding member of the Seafood Choices Alliances, which named him “Seafood Champion” in 2006, as well as an active member of Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch and Seaweb. In 2011, Monterey Bay Aquarium also honored Moonen as “Chef of the Year.” Second only to his passion for sustainability is his commitment to ending hunger, Moonen puts that commitment into action serving on the chef’s advisory board for the Las Vegas Three Square Food Bank.
In 2010 Moonen was part of a PBS Series, “Chef’s A Field,” that was honored with a James Beard Foundation award for his hosted episode in Alaska about Salmon. During this same year Moonen was also honored at the International Chefs Conference with The Community Award presented by StarChefs.com.
Director of Operations
From his first job as a pizza delivery driver at the age of 15, Michael Frauenheim had an insatiable appetite for learning all aspects of the restaurant and culinary world. So much so that he would often stay and help the cooks clean, just for the chance to learn anything he could from them about the business. Since then, Frauenheim has successfully tackled a multitude of opportunities in Las Vegas and is now leading operations at both Rick Moonen’s rm seafood and Rx Boiler Room in The Shoppes at Mandalay Place.
Frauenheim began his culinary domination of the Las Vegas dining scene in 1998, when he accepted a position as executive sous chef for Bellagio, serving on the culinary team that opened the resort. In 2001, he was promoted to executive chef of The Buffet at Bellagio, a position he held until 2004. A new opportunity came calling when he was requested to serve as personal chef to Mr. and Mrs. Steve Wynn, during the opening of the Wynn Las Vegas. In this position he also held duties that included pre-opening, kitchen design, menu design and staff hiring. In addition, he served as executive chef of in-room dining which the resort earned an AAA Five Diamond and Mobil five-star awards. After a successful opening execution, Frauenheim was invited to serve on the opening team for Wynn Macau in 2006, and two years later he returned to the Wynn Las Vegas where he served as executive sous chef where he oversaw all 30 food and beverage outlets on property.t. After a fruitful relationship with Wynn and Encore Las Vegas, he accepted a position as chef de cuisine with Block 16 Hospitality Group until 2014.
A graduate of Allegheny Community College, Frauenheim holds an Associate’s Degree in culinary arts and business management. He has three children, and loves to introduce them to new cuisines, rooting on the Pittsburgh Steelers and supporting the American Cancer Society. After nearly 30 years in the restaurant business, Frauenheim has learned the importance of building a positive work environment by bringing together the front-of-house and the back-of-house to ensure they are achieving one vision together. His passion for cuisine, his dedication and skillset for running a top notch culinary staff, and his impressive list of past work experiences make him a perfect fit for the work ethic and strategy required to serve as director of operations for rm seafood and Rx Boiler Room.