French-born Florent Morellet began to draw maps in grade school in his hometown of cholet, outside of Nantes. Since a young age, his parents encouraged him to pursue his interest in maps of real and imagined places, which led to formal studies in city planning at Central London Polytechnic. Florent continued to explore cities all over the world, leading him to New York, where he opened restaurant Florent in 1985. Florent is also a highly visible social activist. He made his renowned restaurant a springboard for grassroots activism for over twenty years. He has been a leader in issues ranging from gay rights and AIDS to end-of-life choices and architectural preservation. He has received many awards and honors for this work, including The American Foundation for AIDS Research and Heritage of Pride, which named him Grand Marshal of New York’s LGBT Gay Pride Day 2006. Since retiring from his restaurant business in 2008, Florent has concentrated his energy working on his art while remaining involved in social causes. In April 2010, the Manhattan Borough president appointed him to the city’s Community Board 2. This program has been sponsored by Heritage Foods USA.
“The young and bohemian life always moves to areas that need to be discovered.” [14:50]
—Florent Morellet on In The Drink