Daniel Boulud on Fundraising, Collaborating, and the “New Wave of Luxury”

The chef hosted his 18th annual Sunday Supper at Daniel
David Back

Daniel is one of the finest restaurants in America. 

Daniel Boulud is one of the most famous chefs in the world, but he hasn’t forgotten that it’s important to give back to the community. On March 8 he hosted his 18th annual Sunday Supper at his flagship New York restaurant, Daniel, titled “Black Truffles and Blue Jeans.” Proceeds went to Citymeals-On-Wheels, the nonprofit organization that prepares and delivers more than two million meals for 18,000 homebound elderly New Yorkers every year.

The $1,400 per head cocktail hour, silent auction, and dinner was attended by 150 guests, who had the opportunity to enjoy a late-winter menu highlighting black truffles. Boulud was joined in the kitchen by chef Jacques Chibois of the legendary La Bastide Saint Antoine in Grasse, France.

“We held a celebration when we first opened Daniel, and we took the occasion to fundraise,” he told us. “I invited some of my mentors, including Paul Bocuse and Roger Vergé, and we all cooked together. So I’ve continued that tradition by inviting a great chef into our kitchen every year since then. The important thing is that we’ve raised $10 million for Citymeals with only 130 to 140 people at each gala.”

While some chefs may chafe at allowing other chefs into their kitchen, Boulud embraces the opportunity. “I enjoy collaborating,” he told us. “We’ve been here a couple days. We’re organized and good at reading each other’s minds. It’s not the hardest. And I love it when we have a guest chef because it’s not my cuisine.”

Even though Boulud runs many restaurants, all with different sizes, menus, and concepts, his secret to success is in his philosophy. “The principle, first and foremost, is a commitment to quality, even with the most casual food” he told us. “At DBGB, for example, the sausage recipes and ingredients are all very high quality.  It’s simple, eclectic, and casual, but we give it the same care and attention that we do Daniel. Just in a much more casual way.”

Boulud sees a place for modern upscale restaurants in the fine dining scene, but describes these restaurants as a “new wave of luxury” that can’t replace classics like Daniel. “You need an array of luxury in life,” he told us. “I think the spectrum of fine dining is widening a lot. It’s terrible to settle for only the new wave of luxury. When it becomes too sleek, it’s not luxury anymore.”

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