20 Years at the Top: Five Questions for Daniel Boulud
Daniel Boulud's signature restaurant, Daniel, has three Michelin stars and is considered among the world's top tables. Martha has eaten there many times. The excellence extends to his other restaurants in New York City and beyond where diners savor dishes ranging from striped bass "en paupiette" to the famous db burger. We caught up with him after he was a guest on Martha's Sirius XM radio show.
- We hear you're celebrating 20 years of Restaurant Daniel, that's quite an achievement. What are you doing to celebrate?
- Yes, it's a milestone, I have a book,Daniel: My Cuisine, to celebrate. I love making books. My first cookbook,Cooking with Daniel Boulud, was 20 years ago when I first opened Daniel. That was about Daniel then and this book is about Daniel today, about this restaurant and the fantastic team we have and the things we believe in -- excellence in service, in food, in wine -- in everything we do. There are recipes from restaurant Daniel. They are -- how do you say it? Not simplified, but we deconstruct them so they are inspiring to a cook. We don't want to overwhelm them, but make it so they can capture the dish. And then there is a section on classical French dishes -- more stories than recipes, written by the great food writer Bill Buford, who just spent four years cooking in Lyon, France, where I am from. He and I spent two weeks together, creating those old-fashioned dishes. And the last part is that I decided to do a home section of the book, with menus for entertaining from each French region. I love French cuisine because there is the haute cuisine; but there is also the regional cooking, the real soul of France. So we cover that for passionate home cooks.
- How is food in the U.S. today different from when you moved here in 1982?
- I think it definitely has an amazing diversity today. There are all these young chefs who used to work with me, who have matured and work on their own now. [Editor's note: So many influential chefs have worked under Boulud that a book is being written about them. The creator of the Cronut, Dominique Ansel, is among those who have graduated from Boulud's kitchens.] America is one of the best countries for food today. There is, I think, access to great ingredients, to seasonal food -- there is a farmers' market in every small town. For home cooks, I think after the ingredients, the important thing is not to get lost in what direction to take. Most home cooks, they want to have something healthy and nutritious and simple -- that will be my next book!
We hear you've renovated your kitchen at home, but when do you have time to cook there?
My wife is the cook at home, and we cook together as well. Of course, I love to cook. When I invite people, I don't invite more than eight at home for dinner; if have more than eight, I either do a one-pot meal or do a cocktail or a buffet-style meal. My kitchen has everything and is a large kitchen for NYC, but it's not like a 2,000-square-foot kitchen.
Which meals do you eat at home?
I have breakfast every morning at home. This morning I had my oatmeal; I love oatmeal. I have a program of three: oatmeal with milk and pear or blackberries or blueberries; granola with yogurt and fresh fruit as well; I also have cereal with milk and a not-hard-boiled -- an almost-soft-boiled -- egg. And tea or coffee. It's healthy, and it keeps me going for a while.
Of all your appearances with Martha on TV, do you have a favorite?
Even years after I first created it at db Bistro Moderne, people still go wild for the db burger. When Martha and I made it on her show, we passed burgers to the crowd and they went crazy -- that was so much fun. I love that a good burger never goes out of style!