By Daniel Boulud
Living in a fast-paced, sophisticated city like New York, we don’t often stop to think about how lucky we are to be able to nourish ourselves with some of the most delicious foods from all over the world. But as a chef who has worked with Citymeals-on-Wheels for over a decade, I can’t help but think about those who don’t have this luxury: the homebound elderly. Citymeals serves the needs of this often forgotten group-a group that once played a more vital role in our city. My staff and I prepare wonderful meals daily for privileged New Yorkers, so working with Citymeals is a very rewardingway for us to contribute to the less fortunate. This city has embraced me with so much generosity and support and this is one of the ways I have been able to show my gratitude.
With a looming recession, it was heartwarming to see so many generous individuals attend our annual Citymeals-on-Wheels gala. In its 10th year, the event took place at Daniel on Sunday, April 13. We started out with a lively cocktail reception and silent auction centered around some of the finest rare and large Chez Daniel By Daniel Boulud format wines. Dinner began with our “Take a Chef Home” live auction, where star members of my brigade of chefs auctioned off home cooked dinner parties. Damian Sansonetti and charcutier Sylvain Gasdon from Bar Boulud, Executive Chef Olivier Muller at DB Bistro Moderne, Executive Chef Gavin Kaysen at Café Boulud, and Jean François Bruel, executive chef at Daniel, were the main attractions of these spectacular auction packages. Our auctioneer was none other than Gail Simmons of television show Top Chef, a dear friend and a veteran of my special events team at Daniel.
Every host begins the evening with a nagging feeling that something could go wrong. What if not every seat is filled, not every auction lot bought, not every centerpiece perfect, not every dish delicious, or not every guest having a great time? Needless to say, my staff rose to the occasion, and together, we executed a wonderful evening. The house was full and the mood was so festive that I got caught up in the spirit of the evening
and decided to add a few impromptu auction lots. Before I knew it, we had auctioned off 10 tables to be reserved during the first weeks after the re-opening of Restaurant Daniel. (I almost forgot to mention that I am closing the restaurant for about six weeks this summer for a makeover! We’ll debut our new look in September, just after Labor Day.)
The gala and surrounding events raised a total of $650,000, 100 percent of which will go to Citymeals. Now, bearing in mind that it costs $6 for every nutritious meal delivered to a homebound elderly New Yorker, we will certainly be able to provide a lot of meals! That’s what makes me so proud to work with Citymeals. That, and the fact that last year alone, they prepared and delivered 3.1 million meals to 18,000 seasoned New Yorkers.
Of course, a chef’s work is never done. This week, I’ll be checking up on Café Boulud, DB Bistro, and the new Bar Boulud, and then it’s off to Paris and Beijing to survey progress on Maison Boulud. Although I do hope to see you back at Daniel before we close for renovations this summer.