Anyone familiar with the culinary world has surely heard the illustrious name of Daniel Boulud. This Lyon-born chef stands tall among the pioneers of French gastronomy, consistently dazzling and innovating within the established culinary scene of the United States. Since his first apprenticeship at the prestigious two-Michelin-starred restaurant Nandron in 1969, Boulud has dedicated himself to mastering the craft of French cuisine.
Through the years, Boulud has crafted an impressive empire, boasting an astounding 13 ventures within the United States alone. But his influence does not stop there – he has also established seven properties in locations as far-reaching as Toronto, Montreal, Dubai, Singapore, and The Bahamas. In addition to publishing eight cooking books and frequently appearing as a featured chef or guest judge on cooking shows, Boulud even had his own television show, "After Hours with Daniel Boulud".
And let us not forget his awards, which only further reflect the sheer excellence of his craft. Bon Appétit named him Chef of the Year, while the President of France bestowed upon him the title of Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur in March of 2006, recognising his contribution to the advancement of French culture. In 2015, Boulud's outstanding achievements earned him the International Outstanding Achievement Award at the prestigious Catey Awards. Truly, the accomplishments of this culinary visionary are nothing short of awe-inspiring.
The prodigious craft of Boulud, whose contemporary creativity flourishes amidst the bedrock of traditional French techniques, draws inspiration from the bounty of the seasons and the freshest offerings procured from local markets. Each of his forays into the culinary world is an expedition, a quest to explore and elevate the rich heritage of French cuisine in the modern era. The venerated chef pours his very essence into each and every endeavour.
Here, the esteemed chef shares with us the secrets to his success:
1. What is your cooking philosophy?
While my philosophy is rooted in traditional French cooking, it evolved when I moved to America. I take influence from the seasons here, the products available at the local markets, the farmers here and the incredible melting pot of America’s young, talented chefs.
2. How do you balance work and personal life?
Right now I’d say my balance is 80 percent work, 20 percent fun. In this industry it can be challenging to find the right balance however, I’ve learned over the years it’s very important to make time for family and loved ones.
3. Can you share with us some advice for upcoming entrepreneur-chefs?
Be smart and have a plan. I think it’s beneficial to receive a formal culinary education, but if not, I recommend gaining as much experience working in restaurants as possible. This is how you will learn invaluable lessons about the workings of a restaurant. Another piece of advice would be to form a relationship with a mentor who will challenge you to be the best and provide advice throughout your career.
4. Having worked on eight published cookbooks, how do you pick and choose your recipes?
Each book I work on has a theme, and based on that I create new recipes or curate existing ones to fit the theme. For example, some books are based on traditional French cooking featuring recipes I prepare in my restaurants, while others are geared towards home cooking and center around a single technique, like braising.
Be smart and have a plan. I think it’s beneficial to receive a formal culinary education, but if not, I recommend gaining as much experience working in restaurants as possible. This is how you will learn invaluable lessons about the workings of a restaurant. '
– Chef Daniel Boulud
5. You launched Daniel Boulud Kitchen during 2020. What struggles did you face during this pre-Covid era and how did you overcome them?
Covid was a very difficult time for everyone in the industry. We were fortunate to have the resources to launch Daniel Boulud Kitchen in 2020 where we could deliver meals and special treats to anyone across the country. This really helped our business during a challenging period and was instrumental in keeping staff employed. We’re excited to continue to introduce new packages to the platform for people to enjoy.
6. Congratulations on being named as the ‘Best Restaurateur in the World’ in 2021! Can you share with us your experience with opening restaurants in different countries, and the cruise?
Thank you. Yes, there’s been a lot of key learnings as we’ve opened restaurants across the world. The most important is that each partner we work with has to understand the operations of our home base in New York City. The staff at other locations have to be trained in a similar manner in order to accurately represent the Dinex brand overseas, providing the same level of service, hospitality and culinary experience that guests would receive in our New York City restaurants.
'In this industry it can be challenging to find the right balance however, I’ve learned over the years it’s very important to make time for family and loved ones.'
– Chef Daniel Boulud
7. Having opened Le Gratin NYC in May, are there more upcoming projects that we can look out for?
In addition to Le Gratin last year, we also opened Jōji in September in partnership with SL Green and Chef George Ruan and his team. The restaurant is an intimate Omakase experience in One Vanderbilt Avenue connected to Grand Central Terminal, a new type of cuisine for me to be involved in which is enjoyable to work on. We most recently announced two new projects at One Madison Avenue in New York City, which will open in late 2024: a European petit marché inspired by the open-air markets of France also featuring an elegant Parisian grand cafe, and a stylish, refined steakhouse with a wood-burning grill. We also have a project in LA opening later this year.
All imagery is provided by Berlin Rosen PR.