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Food Writer’s Diary
in-the-kitchen-with-bret-thorn-daniel-boulud.gif Jeff Chouw

Dinex Group’s Chef Daniel Boulud reflects on how fun it’s been to work in American and French restaurants

Nation’s Restaurant News’ and Restaurant Hospitality’s Bret Thorn kicks off his In the Kitchen podcast with an in-depth interview of this godfather of fine dining

For decades, Daniel Boulud has been helping to shape the way that Americans think about fine dining. His Dinex Group, based in New York City, and his flagship restaurant Daniel have set the standard for luxury dining and have fostered the careers of chefs including Andrew Carmellini, David Chang, Gavin Kaysen, Rich Torrisi and many, many more. He now operates around 18 restaurants across the world, ranging from the extreme high end (the minimum spend in restaurant Daniel’s 4-seat Skybox, where I interviewed the chef for this podcast, is $1,600), to quick-service Epicerie Boulud locations where you can get a $9 sandwich.

Originally from the French culinary heartland near Lyon, Boulud came of age during the Nouvelle Cuisine movement of the 1960s and ’70s that broke the dogmatic shackles of Escoffier, allowing chefs to develop their own dishes and try non-traditional techniques.  

He brought that sense of adventure with him to the United States 40 years ago, when he arrived as the chef of the embassy of the European Economic Commission (which would later become the European Union). He gained acclaim in New York as the executive chef of Le Cirque, the see-and-be-seen celebrity mecca of the 1980s and ’90s, and then launched his own business, starting with restaurant Daniel.

Part 2 is now available, listen here.

In this inaugural podcast of In The Kitchen, I mostly just sat and let the master talk for the better part of an hour, sharing his stories of the early years of modern fine dining in Washington and New York, and his current mentorship of up-and-coming chefs, as well as discussing his latest project, slated to open later this year, or possibly early next year. We’ve split the conversation into two parts for your convenience.

You might wonder what Boulud means by “Pantagruelistic.” He’s referring to Pantagruel, a gluttonous giant from 16th Century French literature famous for his debauchery.

If you’re curious to know how that came up, give this podcast a listen.

I hope you enjoy it.

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected] 

Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary

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