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Groundbreaking chef David Bouley has died.

Restaurateurs mourn the death of David Bouley

The groundbreaking chef was admired for his creativity, style, and technique

David Bouley, the pioneering New York City chef who lightened and elevated the country’s fine dining, died of a heart attack at age 70 at his home in Kent, Conn., The New York Times reported.

Bouley, who had the reputation of a sort of beloved mad scientist with breathtaking culinary skills, came on the dining scene in 1985 as chef of restaurateur Drew Nieporent’s Montrachet in the city’s Tribeca neighborhood. He went on to open Bouley nearby in 1987, which enjoyed top ranking in the city’s Zagat guide, when that was the city’s most relied upon resource for restaurant recommendations, for years. He also had removed the butter and cream from his kitchen early on and developed concentrated vegetable purées and other lighter elements that dazzled customers, who often sat through dinners for several hours as the chef took his own time to prepare the food.

Based on his ratings, it was worth it.

He went on to open Danube, Bouley Bakery, and Brushstroke as well as Bouley Test Kitchen, an event space and laboratory for his work, which in his later years explored Japanese techniques and ingredients. He also delved into fermentation and focus on gut health years before it became the norm.

Chefs across the country shared their memories of Bouley on social media.

Charlie Palmer called him “a hero of our industry.”

Kerry Heffernan, who considered Bouley a mentor, said “he had an alchemist’s touch with both flavor and texture.”

Jason Neroni said he admired Bouley as an artist and “an innovative chef & incredible cook, a potion maker of sauces that that nobody has ever seen & never will again.”


A post shared by Jason Neroni (@jason_neroni)

Bouley had old-school qualities that chefs admired, like refusing to serve guests who didn’t appreciate the magic he was creating. Dan Barber shared one anecdote:


A post shared by Dan Barber (@chefdanbarber)

Brian Bistrong, who trained under Bouley, also called him his mentor.

“He taught so many talented chefs how to cook and appreciate ingredients,” he said. “He cooked everyday and invented new dishes every night. He made me crazy too but I loved him very much will miss him from the bottom of my heart.”


A post shared by Brian Bistrong (@bbistrong)

Barry Wine superimposed his own face on a photo of Bouley on his Ducati motorcycle and said he admired his genius, precision, and style.

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected] 

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