The Golden Age of Daniel Boulud

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Daniel

 I can cook in a trailer as long as I have good ingredients and a good system. I don’t mind casual places; I mind dirty places, so a kitchen should be clean and well organized.

It’s not very often chefs are acclaimed in both traditional and pioneering ways, but with 3 Michelin stars and credit for creating the gourmet burger, Daniel Boulud is. He may have 14 restaurants around the world, James Beard Awards and the Legion of Honor, but with his earthy love of charcuterie and fine cheese, he is still a French farm boy at heart, albeit one with a few million dollar concepts to spare. Haute Living sat down with the Chef as he readies to host the Dolce Brunch for the South Beach Wine & Food Festival at his Miami restaurant, db Bistro.

He may have 14 restaurants around the world, James Beard Awards and the Legion of Honor, but with his earthy love of charcuterie and fine cheese, he is still a French farm boy at heart.


H: You have many different restaurants, what is the concept behind db Bistro?

D: We try to really offer the best ingredients and yet try to be reasonable. It’s a bistro; you can always find something comfortable to eat every day, and there’s a lot of comfort food, and dishes designed specifically for here in Miami.

H: Who is your Miami chef now?

Matthieu Godard started here in July, but he’s been with me for five years in New York. And the former chef, Jared, went to work for me in Beijing at Maison Boulud.

H: So they don’t really leave the fold.

D: No, they get shuffled. Twenty years ago, when I opened my restaurant, I was a madman, pushing everybody to the max, driving everyone to succeed with me, and you know, sometimes the drive is rough. Now I have a lot more help, and I feel more relaxed. I sit down with the chefs and discuss the dishes, we taste together; we joke. We are sometimes silly in the back because we can afford to do whatever we want in the back.

H: What’s the most important thing about a kitchen?

D: I think it’s the cook. I can cook in a trailer as long as I have good ingredients and a good system. I don’t mind casual places; I mind dirty places, so a kitchen should be clean and well organized. It is the engine of the restaurant. You don’t always see the engine under the hood, but you see the power of it when you go full throttle.

H: db Bistro, and all of your restaurants are incredibly consistent. How do you do it?

D: I am always checking everything in the restaurant. I go behind the bar and smell the fresh juices, I check the furniture, and sometimes I do the line with the cooks. I am always concerned with sauces. I can see if a steak is cooked correctly, but you have to taste sauces. If a batch is not seasoned perfectly, they mess up thirty or forty portions.

H: Do you feel competitive with any other chefs?

D: No, Jean-Georges is not doing what I’m doing, or what Eric is doing etc. But I do hate it when people try to copy somebody who is successful.

H: Your db Burger was the first gourmet burger, which was not only copied, but got everyone excited about burgers again. Are there any food trends you are excited about now?

D: I am French, I am a French chef, I run a French type of restaurant, but the food is always inspired by much more than just that. I love the exchange between the Japanese and French (That is where we got Nouvelle Cuisine). I’m excited about Epicerie Boulud in New York where I can really offer myself to the people. Even with hotdogs, which we make ourselves [from the bread to the dog.] I wish I could do it in Miami; that would be fun.

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