Gold Medals All Around: Daniel Boulud Talks Olympics

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 I was very proud to see my team perform at such a high level under pressure. It was a great way for us to launch the new restaurant. Now just like the athletes, we have to maintain our level of commitment.

It has been really something cooking in Beijing this past month, although I was probably one of few foreigners to be in the city and not at the Bird’s Nest (the Olympics’ natatorium). Having said that, I did get to see Michael Phelps win his seventh and eighth gold medals, and was honored to welcome him to Maison Boulud for dinner.

Another noted guest at Maison was Al Roker, who was celebrating his birthday with his family. Al is a true lover of good food and a pretty good cook himself, so he and I got together on the set of the Today Show the very next morning to cook French food, live from Beijing! There we were preparing whole stuffed baby pig and poached chicken in front of a crowd of Chinese fans. It was quite a change of scene from the NBC studios at Rockefeller Center.

While we don’t dare to compare to the Olympic athletes, we had been doing some pretty intensive training ourselves to get our Beijing kitchen and service teams up to speed in time for the games. All the hard work paid off. Being a part of the Olympic experience was so satisfying to our restaurant staff. I was very proud to see my team perform at such a high level under pressure. It was a great way for us to launch the new restaurant. Now just like the athletes, we have to maintain our level of commitment.

Meanwhile, across the Pacific Rim, in Vancouver, I’ve got another new team in the works, thanks to my new business partner, David Sidoo. I have come to know David over the years as a regular patron at Daniel in New York. He is a man of many talents, with incredible business acumen and generosity. In fact, he’s a former professional athlete, and it shows in his drive and dedication.

Lumière and a Canadian version of DB Bistro Moderne will be located in the elegant Kitsilano neighborhood of Vancouver and will open in November. Lumière has long been one of the city’s great places and I’m helping David write the next chapter in the restaurant’s life. It has always been very refined and we will maintain that with an added note of accessibility.

At DB Bistro, we’ll be showing our more casual side. This past summer I spent time with the local farmers, fishermen, and purveyors of British Columbia to get a feel for the incredible ingredients we will have to work with for our first Canadian venture. And, of course, when I have people like my talented Executive Chefs Dale Mackay and Stephane Istel alongside me, it makes the task of creating new menus for the these restaurants a really rewarding collaboration. All of my restaurants are chef-driven and Canada will be no different.

Although I love traveling and being inspired by foreign tastes and cultures, I am impatient to get home to New York to oversee the final touches to the renovation of DANIEL. The kitchen of my restaurant on East 65th Street is where I feel most at home. Besides, this month, we are launching a new look for the restaurant. It’s a sort of a birthday present for our 10th anniversary-and yes, it is still hard to believe that it’s been 10 years! Actually, it’s 15, if you count our first five years on East 76th Street. So please be sure to come by for a celebratory glass of Champagne.

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