As part of the NYC Wine and Food Festival — and as a celebration of the 20th anniversary of his flagship restaurant DANIEL — Daniel Boulud and five renowned chef who formerly used to be his cooks, gathered for a panel discussion at Bumble and Bumble on Manhattans West Side in New York. “Family Meal: A Conversation with Daniel Boulud,” was a casual chat between the six culinary stars about everything they learned and encountered while working under the renowned French chef and pioneer of the New York culinary scene. The talk was moderated by, Gail Simmons, known from Bravo's TV show Top Chef, who also used to work in marketing and PR for Boulud.
The panelist joining Boulud had all at some point been working at his restaurant, and could all attest that after working for Boulud, they still felt like part of a bigger family with a lifelong connection. The five Boloud alumni were “Cronut king” Dominique Ansel from Dominique Ansel Bakery, Lior Lev Sercarz from Le Boîte Biscuits & Spices, Michael Anthony from Gramercy Tavern, and Lee Hanson and Riad Nasr from Minetta Tavern.
During the hourlong talk, each chef told their story about working for Boulud, who clearly was a tough boss who knew what he wanted from his chefs, but not always how to communicate. “There was a certain kitchen-language that one had to learn in order to understand exactly how Boulud works,” Lior Lev Sercarz, said. “When I delivered exactly what he had told me to do, I got faced with an upset Daniel telling me that ‘between what I told you and what I mean there is like 10 miles!’" Lior explained with a laugh.
Boulud also talked about each of his old chefs, and for pastry chef Dominique Ansel, he sees a feature in a fully equipped restaurant kitchen. “Just wait until this cronut mania is over. He will still be cooking as a chef in a kitchen one day, I know it,” Boulud sayd. Ansel himself came prepared to charm the rest of the panelists by bringing out a box of freshly baked Cronuts that he cut up and shared among the chefs, and got received by a mix of laughter and sighs from the audience, who were left to watch the chefs enjoy the hyped pastry. “It is my fist time to taste a Cronut!” Lee Hanson said, and the other chefs, except Boulud and Ansel himself, nodded their heads.
Besides Boulud being an extremely hard worker and meticulous chef and boss, we learned that he loves champagne, is a “pasty animal” and eats salad as a late night snack. “That’s why I’m slim!” Boulud exclaimed.
After the panel discussion, attendees also had the chance to get Boulud himself to sign a copy of the new book DANIEL, with recipes, stories, and lectures from the master himself and his DANIEL restaurant.