Daniel Boulud celebrated the 20th anniversary of his eponymous four-star New York restaurant in a way that only he could: with a lavish blowout that boasted more than 50 different culinary offerings highlighting each of the restaurants in his empire (not including the 11 different desserts), and appearances by some of the biggest names in the culinary world.
The party took over all of his sprawling Upper East Side restaurant and even spilled out onto the sidewalk, where stations representing each of his restaurants served dishes from their menus. Upon arrival, guests were greeted with mimosas and offerings from Café Boulud (braised rabbit with creamy polenta, artichoke barigoule, and olives) db Bistro Moderne (escargot spaetzle with hazelnut and chicken oysters), Bar Boulud (beef tartare with potato gaufertte), as well as Boulud Sud, DBGB, and Épicerie Boulud.
Once inside, servers passed hors d’oeuvres including a piquillo "bomb" with smoked eggplant, a foie gras lollipop with port glace, crispy frogs legs, crispy soft-shell crab, Louisiana crayfish with a soft-boiled quail egg and stuffed pasta, and Swiss chard and curried ricotta barbarjuan. A raw bar was set up in the main hallway, featuring shellfish towers heaping with lobster, oysters, razor clams, and other high-end shellfish. And all this before guests even got to the main dining room.
All the tables and chairs had been cleared out of the space, which was now dominated by stations serving French cheese, charcuterie, meat, smoked fish, and even asparagus, which is newly in season. Charcuterie from Daniel’s commissary included galantine de canard au foie gras et pistache, terrine de lapin Printaniere, Pâté Lyonnaie en brioche, and other artfully prepared items that would have been showstoppers in their own right. Over at the meat station, tripe a la Portugese, beef chop baked in hay, crispy calf’s head, and chicken leg à la Provencale were served; beet-cured Hamachi and confit salmon with sorrel sauce and quail egg were standouts at the smoked fish station; and over at the asparagus station fresh white asparagus was served with sea scallop ceviche and chilled asparagus soup with chunks of Ibérico lomo.
The centerpiece of the event was a giant cake surrounded by more than 10 small desserts, including Paris-brest, lemon tarts with Italian meringue, pistachio-raspberry tarts, and several varieties of macaron.
It was truly an overwhelming feast, and it was all served to the culinary elite. Thomas Keller, Danny Bowien, Chris Cosentino, Bill Telepan, Elizabeth Falkner, Floyd Cardoz, and many other high-end chefs were in attendance, along with culinary royalty including Martha Stewart, Sirio Maccioni, Andrew Zimmern, and John T. Edge. At the center of it all was Daniel Boulud himself, who took the time in between directing staff to pass out more champagne to stroll through the crowd, greeting guests and taking it all in.
Events like this don’t happen too often. But for the 20th anniversary celebration of one of the world’s finest restaurants, a congratulatory party like this was well-deserved.