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He’s back! The renowned chef recently announced that The Venetian Resort in Las Vegas will be the next home for the popular New York City restaurant DBGB Kitchen & Bar. Daniel Boulud has been missed since he closed his namesake restaurant in the Wynn but has kept a close eye on the all-star culinary action on the Las Vegas Strip.
“Staying in Vegas has always been my goal,” Boulud said in a release. “I am thrilled to be returning with the Venetian and Palazzo, part of the Las Vegas Sands family with whom we already have a successful partnership with in Singapore.” His db Bistro Moderne opened in 2011 at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore to high acclaim.
It is no surprise that this all-star chef is opening in the Venetian Resort. The Venetian and its sister property The Palazzo already feature a dazzling section of the nation’s top fine-dining venues.
Boulud added, “While keeping the roots of my French bistro cuisine, we fuse rock n’ roll, burgers, bangers and beer, not to mention a big bar with an outstanding cocktail and wine program.”
John Caparella, president and chief operating officer of The Venetian, The Palazzo, and Sands Expo, could not be more excited to add yet another world class chef under his roof. “I can’t begin to explain how pleased we are to be the Las Vegas home to such an acclaimed world-class chef as Daniel Boulud," he said. "We’ve always strived to offer amazing dining experiences by the world’s greatest chefs and Daniel Boulud’s DBGB Kitchen & Bar will absolutely continue this tradition!"
Guests have something to really look forward to .The original DBGB Kitchen & Bar opened in 2009 and is located at the intersection of Soho, the East Village and the Lower East Side. This tasty, palate pleasing venue features over 20 craft beers on tap, 75 beers in bottles, and great value in wines as well. The concept is much more than just mouthwatering burgers. It offers varieties of house-made sausages, towering shellfish platters, and a full menu of market-inspired, seasonal Lyonnais cooking. For dessert, guests can dig into the classics like baked Alaska, soufflés and ice cream sundaes.
We look forward with anticipation to Chef Daniel Boulud’s triumphant return to the culinary mecca of Las Vegas at the Venetian Resort and Casino.
Daniel Boulud Opening DBGB Kitchen and Bar at the Venetian - Recipes
It’s about time! Chef Daniel Boulud is coming back to Las Vegas in a big way and a whole new concept. After a long absence and much speculation, his contemporary French restaurant DB Brasserie is set to open this May inside The Venetian® Las Vegas. The new opening of course, is one the most anticipated culinary events of the year in this city of culinary all-stars.
“DB Brasserie will have all the elements of a traditional brasserie with the constant energy of a café,” says Chef Boulud. “It will buzz with people enjoying charcuterie, shellfish, my favorite French dishes, and fine wines. It is a very French feeling, the Brasserie!”
Chef Daniel Boulud
Photo Credit : Daniel_Krieger
The tasty menu is created in collaboration with Executive Chef David Middleton who is a legend in his own right. The new Brasserie stays true to Chef Boulud’s signature French-American cooking and modern sensibility. Chef Boulud’s signature dishes will include such delights as Poissons Fumes, Pissaladiere, Poulet Croustillant, and The Original DB Burger (which we last had at his DB Bistro Moderne in Miami). For the FINI, desserts including Chocolate & Salty Peanut Bombe, and Apple Tatin are sure to please any sweet tooth.
Of Course, DB Brasserie will boast a wine program of approximately 300 international selections with special attention given to exciting new American wine regions. One section will honor the great classics of California, while another showcases the newest generation of winemakers responsible for opening the public’s eyes to domestic varieties beyond the classic Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blends. Keeping with the tradition of Daniel Boulud’s restaurants, the list will also feature the best French producers from the storied regions of the Rhone Valley, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Alsace, the Loire Valley and the great Southern regions of Provence, the Languedoc and Roussillon.
The venue seats 280 diners, including two private dining rooms, as well as a casual bar and lounge. It is tastefully designed by Jeffrey Beers International (JBI), the group took inspiration from historic Art Nouveau brasseries in France to create a welcoming and convivial atmosphere.
The exterior façade of DB Brasserie is clad in travertine limestone panels, a reference to the public buildings that house some of France’s classic brasseries from past centuries. The centerpiece is an expansive faux-skylight reminiscent of those in classic Beaux-Arts train stations. Custom blackened steel panels, laser cut with a custom-designed Art Nouveau inspired decorative pattern, frame a grid of glass ceiling panels that are anchored by Art Nouveau-style brass globe pendant light fixtures. JBI employed authentic materials for the floors, using a custom cement green and white tile in a hexagonal pattern for the bar and several dining areas, as well as an oak wood floor underneath the skylight. The design elements extend throughout the bar and lounge, as well as the private dining areas.
DB Brasserie will be open for lunch and dinner as is located in the Venetian / Palazzo’s famed restaurant row that features many of the world’s greatest culinary minds. Once again, The Venetian / Palazzo Resorts have yet another culinary shining in their universe of incredible dining venues. Welcome back Chef Boulud, we look forward to breaking bread with you once again.
Daniel Boulud is Chef-Owner of several award-winning restaurants and the Feast & Fêtes catering company. While he hails from outside Lyon, France, it is in New York that he has truly mastered the dining scene and is today considered one of America’s leading culinary authorities. Raised on his family’s farm in the village of Saint-Pierre-de-Chandieu, the chef remains inspired by the rhythm of the seasons and menus driven by fine ingredients. Since arriving in the US in 1982, Boulud has become renowned for the contemporary appeal he adds to soulful cooking rooted in French tradition.
Daniel Boulud’s New York City restaurants include his flagship DANIEL (1993), Relais & Châteaux member the elegant one-Michelin star Café Boulud (1998) with its adjacent cocktail bar, Bar Pleiades his contemporary Parisian bistro, db bistro moderne (2001) two Upper West Side restaurants including the charcuterie-centric Bar Boulud (2008) and the Mediterranean-themed Boulud Sud (2011). DBGB Kitchen and Bar (2009), situated downtown on the corner of Bowery and Houston, is chef’s relaxed restaurant where the French brasserie meets the American Tavern. Épicerie Boulud (2011), with locations across from Lincoln Center, within The Plaza Food Hall and in the Oculus World Trade Center, is an eat-in and take-out market and café, with exquisite homemade and gourmet items from around the world.
Beyond Manhattan the chef has created Café Boulud in Palm Beach (2003) and db bistro moderne in downtown Miami, Florida (2010). Boulud has extended his culinary reach internationally with db bistro moderne at Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands (2010), Bar Boulud London (2010) at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, Café Boulud at the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto (2012), and Maison Boulud at the Ritz-Carlton Montréal (2012). In spring 2014 the Chef returned to Las Vegas and opened db Brasserie in partnership with The Venetian® Las Vegas. Additionally, in September 2014 he opened a second DBGB Kitchen and Bar at downtown Washington D.C.’s CityCenterDC, and a third Bar Boulud, in Boston’s Mandarin Oriental on Boylston Street.
Boulud’s culinary accolades include James Beard Foundation awards for “Outstanding Restaurant,” “Outstanding Restaurateur,” “Best Chef, New York City” and “Outstanding Chef of the Year.” He has been named “Chef of the Year” by the Culinary Institute of America and Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur by the French government. Restaurant DANIEL has been cited as “one of the ten best restaurants in the world” by the International Herald Tribune, has earned multiple Michelin stars and Wine Spectator’s “Grand Award”. In 2015 the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awarded Boulud the Diners Club® Lifetime Achievement Award for his success as a restaurateur, businessman, and ‘chef who is revered as one of the world’s finest.’ Boulud’s culinary style is reflected in nine cookbooks, including the definitive DANIEL: My French Cuisine (Grand Central Publishing, 2013) and his most recent My Best: Daniel Boulud (Ducasse Books, 2014).
What was your most moving culinary experience?
It was last year -my best friend’s 60th birthday. We flew to New Zealand. It took us 24 hours to get there, three days there and back.But it was worth it: We cooked the most amazing langoustines from the deep sea, grilled them over a fire, and followed with a roasted leg of lamb, all with great wines. The meal was very humble and simple, but delicious.
The most amusing kitchen incident you ever witnessed?
One Halloween a practical joker arrived at the restaurant as a huge gorilla. He walked into the restaurant in a gorilla suit. We weren’t sure whether or not to serve him, but we did and after the first course he went home and changed.
Your best piece of advice for amateur chefs?
Try to cook a one pot meal: a stew, vegetables, a roast–some dish that has all the ingredients in it for the meal. That’s how I cook on Sunday.
Daniel Boulud to Close DBGB Kitchen and Bar Next Month
Daniel Boulud has announced that he will close his downtown brasserie-style restaurant, DBGB Kitchen and Bar, on Aug. 11. He said the eight-year-old restaurant was not doing enough consistent business throughout the week to justify keeping it open.
“In this location, it’s busy on weekends but erratic in the early part of the week,” he said.
The restaurant, a large, informal room with an open kitchen, specializes in beer, sausages and rustic country food. The décor features shelves filled with cookware, like copper pots, once owned by famous chefs, including Paul Bocuse. Mr. Boulud plans to relocate the staff. The chef, Nicholas Tang, will go to the DBGB in Washington. Mr. Boulud said he would also like to reopen the restaurant in another location.
“I hope to find a more appropriate space for it in New York,” Mr. Boulud said.
Daniel Boulud's Vegas Plans Shift at the Venetian
Daniel Boulud's plans to bring DBGB Kitchen & Bar to the Venetian have shifted, and the concept is no longer destined for the former Valentino space there. But it gets better. Instead, Boulud will open DB Brasserie at the end of March or beginning of April, his publicist confirms.
Boulud had DB Brasserie at Wynn Las Vegas where Lakeside now sits from 2005 to 2010. "DB Brasserie is an updated version of Daniel's original Vegas outpost, bringing seasonal French cuisine and signature brasserie dishes with a modern twist," his publicist told Eater Vegas.
A second DBGB Kitchen & Bar location will still open in Washington, D.C., early next fall.
Already, DB Brasserie has a chef in mind. Dave Middleton leaves Marche Bacchus to take over the Boulud kitchen. Eating Las Vegas reports that Alex Stratta returns to Marche Bacchus after a short stint at Scarpetta in Los Angeles.
· Daniel Boulud Returns to Vegas with DBGB Kitchen & Bar [
Heat Wave: Daniel Boulud's BBQ Short-Rib Sliders
Spicy and flavorful, beef short-rib sliders bring the best of summer barbecue right to hand. Even better, they're easy to prepare.
In the summer, I love to have friends over for barbecue. What makes this recipe for short-rib sliders so great for entertaining is that it's a way to serve a meal with all the flavors of barbecue but without having to stand for a long time over a hot grill.
The key is to cook the spice-rubbed ribs low and slow. I use a 250-degree oven and bake the meat for six to seven hours, until it's melt-in- your-mouth tender. There's no basting or turning, and you don't even have to open the oven while it cooks. Best of all, the meat can be prepared a day or two in advance, so all you have to do is assemble these mini hamburger-style sandwiches when you're ready to eat.
My barbecue sauce combines some wonderful flavors: bacon, which adds that grill-like element of smokiness, plus strong coffee and whiskey for a tangy, adult taste. Or you can use your favorite brand of BBQ sauce.
For a large gathering, I like to serve this buffet style, setting out all the accompaniments and letting friends make their own sliders. The meat has a little kick from the spices, but the addition of my crimson-color coleslaw and bread &mdash either a roll or mini bun &mdash creates the perfect marriage of heat and coolness, sweet and sour, soft and crisp. This is a lick-your-fingers experience that becomes even better with an ice-cold glass of rosé or beer.
What to Drink
"I prefer malty beers with barbecue," says Jon Langley, beer sommelier at DBGB Kitchen and Bar. "They match the sweetness of the sauce and the richness of the meat." Pretty Things's Lovely Saint Winefride ($9) is a brown lager with caramel accents. "It's intensely malty without being overly roasted or bitter," says Langley. Two good German options are Uerige Sticke ($5), a palate-cleansing ale, and Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen ($5), a smoky amber lager. Finall, Traquair House Ale ($6), a classic Scottish beer, has notes of molasses with a little earth, cocoa, and a whiff of smoke. "It's an all-time favorite of mine," he adds.
Daniel Boulud Returns to Vegas with DBGB Kitchen & Bar
French chef Daniel Boulud makes his giant return to Vegas in 2014 with his most casual concept in the DB empire. Boulud announced last night that he plans to bring DBGB Kitchen & Bar, his casual French brasserie meets American tavern, to the Venetian and Palazzo sometime next year.
"We've decided to bring something to Vegas that is very dear to me, a restaurant where I really have fun running and also creating the menus with it, which is definitely the most casual of my restaurants, DBGB," Boulud says at the press conference.
Boulud says DBGB was named for the former rock club CBGB in New York City. "I wanted to make a French brasserie meets American tavern but with rock and roll, burgers, bangers and beer. I wanted a very interesting program of beer, the greatest place on earth for sausage. I have a big program of charcuterie in New York and we continue to do that. Sometimes we run up to 16 types of sausage on the menu. Of course the burgers. I was the creator of the DB Burger 12 years ago, the first real gourmet burger."
And burgers will make the menu, including his Frenchie, Yankee and Piggie burgers. The Frenchie features crispy pork belly, caramelized onion, arugula, cornichon, mustard and Morbier cheese on a pepper Brioche bun. The Yankee is the more simple of the three with lettuce, tomato and onion. The Piggy has a jalapeño cole slaw, barbecue pulled pork and a jalapeño mayo on a cheddar potato bun.
Boulud also wants to bring his charcuterie program, as well as his take on sundaes. "The way we approach the Sundaes is that we try to create a story, the French guy creating an American sundae," he says. Boulud calls his version "complexity with a French flair."
Also expect to find 20 craft beers on tap, 75 beers in bottles and great value table wine. Shellfish platters and full menu of market-inspired, seasonal Lyonnais cooking also make the menu.
Boulud plans to have two private dining rooms in the space along with a dominant bar scene. He hopes the restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner or have a late afternoon bar scene. "It's not going to be the formula where you have to order an appetizer, entree and dessert," he says.
"Vegas is certainly one of the best town's in the world, bringing the world's best talents," Boulud says. "I think that's why I'm always attracted by Vegas." Boulud already has a relationship with the Sands Corp. with his db Bistro Moderne at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. He closed Daniel Boulud Brasserie at Wynn Las Vegas in 2010.
Boulud admits he's in Vegas this weekend to determine exactly which space he will take over at the twin resorts. The space will determine how long it takes to open.
"I came to Vegas the first time, I think it was 1981," Boulud says. "I was driving through the desert from San Francisco to LA and made a detour to Vegas. I was at the MGM two weeks before it burned down. Oh, God, if I would have come two weeks later, I could have been stuck in the elevator."
Boulud hosted the Epicurean Affair at the Palazzo last night with 75 restaurants from Vegas. Boulud admits he was going to start with a joke, a big announcement. "I'm getting married in June and this is my bachelor party."
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It's been about three weeks since renowned chef Daniel Boulud 's DBGB Kitchen + Bar opened to great fanfare at CityCenterDC. And now that the celeb chef hype has died down a bit, how are D.C. diners reacting to DBGB's menu of French classics, house made sausages, raw oysters and crab-topped burgers? Here's what the first bloggers, Yelpers and others are saying about DBGB Kitchen + Bar:
Must Get The Baked Alaska: Tom Sietsema appreciates Daniel Boulud's effort in the early weeks of the restaurant. "No out-of-town chef in recent memory has tried as hard as Daniel Boulud to win over Washington," he writes in The Washington Post. Sietsema counts two "showstoppers" already at DBGB: "One is savory. Caper-showered sauteed fluke circled with a garland of crumbled cauliflower, dandelion tendrils and grape slivers is an elegant tribute to the Chesapeake. Wisely, [executive chef Ed] Scarpone, a six-year veteran of the Boulud empire, serves the local fish on the bone and with its skin. The other arresting performance is sweet. Baked Alaska with a core of raspberry sorbet is ignited at the table with Chartreuse — and a blow torch." [WaPo]
Don’t Skip The Coq Au Vin: Todd Kliman tweets, "My early word on the new DBGB from chef Daniel Boulud: coq au (my god!) vin. #dcrestaurants" [Twitter]
More Coq Au Vin Raves: User jumbo shrimp also posts on Don Rockwell that the coq au vin is a winner, saying, "The kitchen is sending out very good food. I had the Sweet & Sour Eggplant, which was nuanced and balanced. Our party shared a sausage duo: Boudin Basque & Tunisienne. My coq au vin was textbook and absolutely delicious. I finished with the fig tart, which was mostly fruit and not very sweet--nicely restrained. All of the service staff that we interacted with were friendly and had the right attitude (i.e. solving problems instead of pawning them off)." [DR]
The Burger Comparison: Going Out Gurus ordered the Menage a Trois three-burger platter and did a taste test. The Frenchie was deemed the winner — "Our tasters felt this burger, $19 on its own, offered the richest, most complex flavors — apropos for a place as upscale-casual ad DBGB." How did the SpongeBob-inspired The Crabbie burger fare? "Our panel of tasters found the sweetness of the crab overpowered the burger, but it's quite the thing to behold, even at $22." [GoG]
The Forgotten DC Outpost: A PoPville commenter says, "I’ve been to a number of Daniel Boulud’s restaurants in New York (including the original DBGB) and our visit for dinner last night was equally disappointing. Food was okay, I guess but definitely not worth the the hype. Really felt like it was a DC outpost that no one really cared about."
Another Not As Good As New York Comparison: The restaurant is currently earning 3 stars on Yelp with 15 reviews in. User M.G. writes on Yelp: "The consensus at our table was that the food was pretty good, but certainly none of the wow factor we'd seen at Boloud's New York restaurants. The service was appallingly bad. Chalk it up to early days? Let's hope so." [Yelp]
The Celeb Chef Run-in: Yelper Nicole L. recounted meeting Daniel Boulud in the restaurant after the opening week: "We were surprised to see him he went around the tables to say hello. That was cool. When he made his rounds we managed to catch his attention even though our table was in the middle we didnt know what to expect. We had a candid chat about the embassy life in DC (he was the chef of the French Ambassador to the EU) and Lyon, he jumped and asked if we saw the episode of Anthony Bourdain's show about Lyon. He said it was fun but a lot of work. He was very approachable and normal. We enjoyed chatting with him and hope to check out Daniel in NYC." [Yelp]
The Tears of Joy for Madeleines: Foursquare user Rocio del Mar Perez writes: "The pork confit appetizer is delicious, as is the steak tartare. Coq au vin is a winner, and the madeleines for dessert almost made me cry out of joy. Very good food. The service can improve…" [Yelp]
The Vegetarian-Friendly Review: Yelp reviewer Patrick P. is a big fan, saying, "You should absolutely go here. Don't let the hype get in the way of the food. Go, eat, enjoy. I'll be back!" He writes: "My vegetarian friend went off the menu for dinner, and the chef whipped up a pasta with fresh vegetables that she simply RAVED about, declaring she had never had such a quality pasta dish." [Yelp]
DBGB Kitchen + Bar is located at 931 H Street NW, Washington, DC 20001
America's Most Relentless, Fun-Seeking, Demanding, and Revered Chef: Daniel Boulud
Just a few hours earlier, I had met Boulud at the Venetian hotel and casino, where the 59-year-old New York–based megachef was set to open the first of three restaurants in as many months. Now we were driving to Hollywood for a few days of shooting one of the iterations of Top Chef . Moments before we left the casino, one of Boulud’s longtime chefs had pulled me aside. “Whatever you do, don’t let him drive,” he whispered urgently. I laughed he did not laugh back. A few minutes later, after I climbed into Boulud’s rented BMW 528i, I began to understand why. The GPS estimated a four-hour, 36-minute trip. “So, we can shave an hour off of that,” the chef said, reaching into his briefcase and producing an honorary star-shaped badge once presented to him by a Texas sheriff. He placed it on the dashboard. “In case we get into any trouble,” he said. As he merged onto Las Vegas Boulevard, steering with one hand while the setting sun came in blindingly through the windshield, Boulud decided it was the perfect time to start a phone conversation with his daughter, Alix. On FaceTime. All in all, it seemed prudent to assume the driving duties at the first opportunity.
By now, having spent the better part of a week following Boulud through his frenetic life, I wasn’t surprised to find myself in the role of chauffeur. If you spend enough time with Daniel Boulud, at one point or another you will almost certainly end up acting like one of his assistants. It may, for instance, be 2 a.m. and you’ll be trying to extricate him from a smoke-filled party on the Lower East Side, and you just know that if he makes the ten-yard trip across the room to retrieve his jacket, he’ll bounce from conversation to conversation with as much chance of making it back to his starting place as a beach ball at a rock concert, meaning there’s no way you’re leaving for another hour. So you get the jacket for him. Or you’ll be at a swank benefit where CEOs chat beneath Greek statuary bathed in pink light while socialites sway on the dance floor, and a text will arrive from his actual assistant: “DB NEEDS TO BE IN BROOKLYN, NOW. CAN YOU GRAB HIM PLEASE. ” with such a strong implication of imminent mental breakdown that you can’t help but lend yourself to the cause. Or you’ll simply be in the kitchen of one of his restaurants as he impatiently hip-checks a chef out of the way in order to demonstrate how a dish should be prepared. And when he snaps his fingers, you’ll somehow instinctively hand him a spoon or towel or whatever it is he needs.
11:15 A.M. / Waiting for the F train, Lexington Ave.-63rd St. Station
Mostly, though, you end up doing things to aid Boulud because in his presence it is hard not to feel, well, lazy. In the last year, the French chef opened restaurants in Vegas, Boston, and Washington, D.C. ( db Brasserie , Bar Boulud , and DBGB Kitchen and Bar , respectively) published a cookbook ( My Best: Daniel Boulud ) and had a son (Julien). Along the way he maintained the social calendar appropriate to a New York icon, a chef uniquely able to bridge the various schisms of this culinary cultural moment—between the Upper East Side and Brooklyn, fine dining and comfort food, millennials and boomers. Boulud lives in a constant state of multidirectional motion: leaping down the steep stairway—more of a ladder, really—that leads to the Skybox, the office/private dining room that overlooks the kitchen of Restaurant Daniel on East 65th Street changing from chef’s whites to civilian clothes in the back of his chauffeured Lexus as it cruises up Fifth Avenue scuttling down the labyrinthine kitchen corridors that connect his three restaurants—Bar Boulud, Boulud Sud, and Épicerie Boulud—across from Lincoln Center.
And everywhere along the way, to all those who cross his path, it’s “ Ça va ?”—“Everything good?” Ça va ? to the woman pushing a vacuum across the carpets at Restaurant Daniel early in the morning. Ça va? to the culinary students on a test trail, cowering like hamsters in the corner of the kitchen. Ça va? to the dishwasher and the delivery guy, to the butcher, the baker, the reservation maker. The greeting is both a reflex and heartfelt. Boulud is kind in the way that essentially happy people can afford to be. After a while, it ceases to be a question and becomes a benediction: All shall be well, and all shall be well. It’s a testament to Boulud’s great charisma that, when you’re with him, you feel like it’s true.
One typical spring morning, two reservationists sit behind a desk outside the dining room at Restaurant Daniel, stifling yawns as they field call after call. “Restaurant Daniel, can I ask you to hold a moment? Thank yooou. Restaurant Daniel, can I ask you to hold a moment? Thank yooou.” Fully illuminated, the dining room has the exposed, disorienting feel of a theater before the audience files in. Boulud is in the kitchen. Despite having been out till after midnight—at a party in Brooklyn for the international chef collective known as Gelinaz!—he has already worked out and breakfasted with his (then-pregnant) wife in their apartment above the restaurant, and emerged with both his pressed whites and sweep of hair as immaculate as ever.
In addition to the usual buzz of a kitchen preparing for service—the bubbling of stocks, the arranging of mise en place , the discussion of the day’s specials—the staff is preparing two additional menus that exist about as far apart on the fine-dining spectrum as is possible. The first, to be held in Daniel’s private dining room, is for 27 members of the “international gastronomic society” the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs , who have amassed for a feast of old-school French dishes drawn from Boulud’s book Daniel: My French Cuisine . The second, another Gelinaz! event, is a surprise birthday dinner for the hypermodern chef Wylie Dufresne , held at his Lower East Side restaurant WD-50 and featuring a lineup of young star chefs from all over the world. For the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, the menu includes such resurrected glories as a whole turbot stuffed with lobster and turbot mousse, a whole confited foie gras en gelée , and poulardes en vessie —chickens slowly poached inside swollen pig bladders, a kind of proto–sous vide. For Dufresne’s party, Boulud has collaborated with __Mission Chinese Food’s Danny Bowien__ on “The Danny Boulud Mission Crevette”: shrimp butter, butterflied shrimp, and shrimp mousse cooked in a savarin mold and topped with Bowien’s fiery XO sauce. (“As though I came from uptown and had a psychedelic trip at Mission Chinese” is how Boulud explains the concept.) In tribute to one of Dufresne’s signature dishes, the invention will be accompanied by a straw containing a strand of shrimp “spaghetti” that guests will extrude into a cup of ramen broth. “Either you can blow it or you can suck it,” Boulud explains, as the kitchen collectively titters.
1:00 PM / A staff meeting near DBGB, downton Manhattan
“Did you hear that Jean-Georges is being reviewed in tomorrow’s Times ?” asks one of the sous-chefs as he slides a test batch of straws into a pan of simmering water. It is a loaded subject, both because Jean-Georges Vongerichten is one of the few chefs equal to Boulud in age, stature, and pedigree, and because the New York Times critic Pete Wells has recently removed one of Restaurant Daniel’s four stars—in large part because of what he saw as a double standard between the treatment of VIPs and anonymous diners.
“Oh, really,” is all Boulud says, cocking an eyebrow. And then we’re off to the Lexus, driven by a stoic Romanian by the name of Olimpiu. The season is changing, and it is time to review the spring menus of restaurants across the Boulud empire. The first stop is uptown, at the original site of Restaurant Daniel, now occupied by Café Boulud . In the kitchen, longtime executive chef Gavin Kaysen , soon to depart to open his own restaurant in Minneapolis, and chef de cuisine Aaron Bludorn , who will replace him, present the menu. Boulud looks it over. He inquires about the vinaigrette on a snap pea salad, instructs the team to add leg to a lamb dish in addition to loin (“Maybe we can ease up the price a bit”), grabs a pen to sketch out the plating for a pasta dish he wants to put on. He rewrites the description of the moqueca , a Brazilian fish soup that hasn’t sold well it will now be called Brazilian Fish Soup. With every new restaurant, Boulud has expanded the breadth of his culinary canvas—from the pan-Mediterranean menu of Boulud Sud to the hearty brasserie fare of DBGB, the refined globalism of Café Boulud to the pioneering gourmet burger at db Bistro Moderne. At Restaurant Daniel the menu has drifted toward a brand of international modernism, though Boulud’s heart seems to still reside in dishes with a rustic French soul, betraying his upbringing on a farm near Lyon. When he recently hosted a Skybox dinner for Ferran Adrià , the most influential avant-garde chef of the past two decades, Boulud’s menu stayed, dazzlingly, in his comfort zone: venison and foie gras pâté en croûte a whole Japanese butterfish braised in Thai curry the Boulud signature duck à la presse Brie layered with truffles.
Finishing up at Café Boulud, the chef passes through the dining room, greeting a regular the maître d’ discreetly whispers the names of another set of guests, and the chef spends a few minutes talking with them too. The coat check girl is chatting with a waiter: “You know Jean-Georges is being reviewed tomorrow.” On the way out, Boulud notices a bough out of place on a planter outside the restaurant and stoops to fix it.
So it goes through the day. When it comes to Boulud’s attention to the details of his empire, there appears to be no hierarchy of importance: The invite list to the upcoming soft opening in Vegas the amount of cream in the pâté grand-mère used in a banh mi at the Épicerie a visit to actor Bryan Cranston lunching at Bar Boulud a call to a high-profile pediatrician on behalf of two married employees with a constipated infant what to do with a shipment of fresh herring the placement of speakers in a corner of the dining room at DBGB the lighting of a photo shoot for a cookbook he’s contributed to—all things big and small are apparently in Boulud’s portfolio, and everything receives an equal share of energy and time. For the most part, miraculously, the day seems to expand to accommodate everything. It is impressive and intimidating.
Is it the best way to run a business? I ask Brett Traussi , chief operating officer of Boulud’s Dinex restaurant group. He bursts out laughing: “Of course not!” he says. Then he shrugs. “But it’s Daniel.”
Traussi has been with Boulud since the mid-1980s, when the chef was beginning his storied New York career in the kitchen of the Polo Lounge, alongside such fellow future stars as Thomas Keller and Alfred Portale . It had already been a long journey for a young man who by the age of 15 had been a finalist in a competition for the best kitchen apprentice and who had the good timing and sense to soak up the influence of such culinary giants as Roger Vergé , Michel Guérard , and Georges Blanc . In 1986, he took over the kitchen at Le Cirque , transforming Sirio Maccioni’s commissary for the rich and glamorous into a four-star commissary for the rich and glamorous—a place where, for the first time, the food mattered as much as the scene. When, years later, Boulud moved Restaurant Daniel into the old Le Cirque space, it was a punctuation mark on the shift in power from the front of the house, where master hosts like Maccioni had once ruled, to the kitchen, where a new breed of all-powerful chefs now held sway.
8:00 P.M. / Checking his iPhone (and checking up on his restaurants) as prime dining time hits
Back in the kitchen of Restaurant Daniel, the Times review has finally been published online . The entire staff of chefs stand by their stations, reading it on their iPhones. It is a very good review Jean-Georges has kept its four stars. One of Boulud’s assistants hands him a printout of Wells’ article and stands at a respectful distance as he reads it from top to bottom. “Okay,” he says, finally, handing the pages back to her and pulling his apron strings taut. “Very good.”
Is there an extra degree of vehemence in the speed with which he bounds down the ladder from the Skybox? In the violence with which he joins executive chef Jean François Bruel in wrestling the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs’ poulardes into their stretched-out pig bladders before tying them airtight with a series of knots that would make a sailor proud? It’s hard to say. (That night he has a magnum of Champagne sent over to Vongerichten in congratulation.)
By this point, we are late to WD-50. “Olimpiu, how fast can you get there?” Boulud shouts. “Fifteen minutes,” the driver says. Given every law of physics and New York City traffic, this is impossible, and yet somehow it isn’t: Lights seem to turn green for Boulud as we glide back down Fifth Avenue trucks magically disappear.
The windows of WD-50 are covered in butcher paper. Inside is a truly impressive gathering of talent: Alex Atala of D.O.M. in São Paulo, René Redzepi of Noma in Copenhagen, __Magnus Nilsson__ of Sweden’s Fäviken , and Inaki Aizpitarte from Le Chateaubriand in Paris, in addition to such local luminaries as Bowien, David Chang of Momofuku , and Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune . Around the globe, kitchens are making do without their leaders tonight.
This kitchen is a happy orgy of backslapping and selfie-taking. Boulud makes his way, ça va –ing through the crowd and then, instinctively, he starts doing what nobody else seems to have thought to do: making a plan for the night’s service. “Okay,” he says, grabbing a sheet of paper and sketching out the dining room. “How many waiters do we have?” In a corner of the room, a cluster of younger chefs is blow-torching an avocado.
9:30 P.M. / Chefs at Wylie Dufresne's surprise birthday party at WD-50
Chang is hanging out on the sidewalk with a group of smokers. “Shouldn’t you be in there yelling at people?” someone asks him. “I don’t have to,” says Chang, who worked a brief and admittedly undistinguished stint at Café Boulud at the beginning of his career. “Daddy’s here now.”
A call comes from Restaurant Daniel. The Chaîne des Rôtisseurs are seated and getting antsy. Boulud’s personal attention is a kind of currency, negotiated over like any other element of a meal. And while he rarely guarantees a stop-by, the price of $750 per head (without wine) appears to demand one. So we race back uptown, where the group occupies a long table in the private dining room. The attendees have seemingly arrived from a time machine. The men are corpulent in the way that used to bespeak wealth, the women skinny in the way that does now. As a group, the over-under on times they have been below 42nd Street in the past decade might be about five. They are wearing medals.
Boulud welcomes them, running through the menu with a story for each item. In the kitchen, Bruel puts the finishing touches on the turbot, dressing the stuffing of lobster and turbot mousse as though it were a clown’s vest. He and Boulud carefully puncture the swollen bladders and remove the chickens, which are glistening and the color of oak. They gently push shaved black truffles beneath the skin as they carve. Chefs linger by the door like medical students anxious for a glimpse of an exotic surgical procedure.
Back downtown, it’s nearing 10 p.m., and the course being served is called Rotten Chicken and Corn for Deadheads, presented with the blaring accompaniment of the Grateful Dead’s “Help on the Way.” And, thank God for the guests, help is: Everybody is having a gas, but the plating is already an hour and a half behind and sliding in the wrong direction. “Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!” Boulud yells, bounding into the kitchen and effortlessly taking control. To an idle chef he says, “Grab some towels! Grab some tools! You’re in a kitchen now!”
From the doorway, Frank Castronovo of Brooklyn’s Frankie’s Spuntino and Prime Meats watches in a fit of giggles. “This is the f#%king best!” he says, to nobody in particular. “Seriously, man: That is a chef!”
When the meal finally ends, with Boulud and Bowien’s dish, chefs and diners alike decamp for an after-party at Bowien’s Mission Cantina a few blocks west, where a waitress dressed as a cigarette girl carries around a tray covered with sea urchin, and platters are stacked high with sticky Sichuan chicken wings. Boulud finds a spot on a banquette in the center of it all. Along the way he has somehow picked up a black fedora that makes him look like a character in a Godard film. Another waitress comes over with a magnum of sake and shot glasses. “I was told to bring this to you,” she tells him. Castronovo and his business partner, Frank Falcinelli, plop down on the banquette, flanking Boulud, and congratulate him on his imminent fatherhood (Julien will be born in four weeks). “It’s nice you’ll have a little Frank of your own,” says Frank One.
“Francis Boulud,” says Frank Two. “It has a nice ring, doesn’t it?”
Boulud just sits there, grinning.
And then, a few days later. The desert. Beneath the blood moon. For all his ability to move easily between worlds, Boulud is such a New York figure that it’s always a little surprising that he doesn’t dematerialize when he leaves the city limits. He is excited as we enter the In-N-Out , but it quickly becomes clear that his fast-food experience is minimal at best: He keeps changing his drink order, despite the fact that it’s a self-serve fountain he tries to tip the cashier and then to buy her hat. When we get our number, he remains at the counter, even though there are a dozen or so people ahead of us. He wolfs the burger. “It is very good,” he says. “But I don’t need another one for at least a year.”
I take the wheel, and we make it to L.A. by 11 without incident. In the lobby of the Andaz hotel, we yawn and retire to our rooms. Boulud is several floors above me, but we both have floor-to-ceiling windows looking out across the twinkling valley of West Hollywood. Exhausted, I settle in. The phone rings. “Hey, this moon is amazing!” Boulud says. I open the drapes and, sure enough, the moon is starting to slowly disappear in bite-size pieces. He hangs up, but five minutes later I get a text: “Meet me on the roof. Bring whiskey.”
I find him sitting by the pool, gazing upward. “Wow,” he says as we pass my minibar bottle of Jack Daniel’s back and forth. He pulls out his phone and tries to capture the moment before giving up. We watch until only a sliver is left. It is the stillest I’ve seen Boulud in five days. And then the spell breaks. He claps his hands and springs up. “I’m going to bed to dream of the moon,” he says, heading for the elevator.
Off the Menu
DBGB KITCHEN AND BAR Daniel Boulud’s latest, an industrial space in a new building, is divided by open shelves holding a museum of copper cookware donated by dozens of chefs from around the world. Mr. Boulud, left, put his bar on one side of the pots and his casual dining room on the other. The restaurant, which is to open on June 8, will specialize in burgers, sausages, other charcuterie and similar casual fare, mostly with a French accent. Colin Alevras manages an international list of dozens of draft and bottled beers, plus wines. Just as the cookware display is a nod to the neighborhood’s restaurant supply houses, the name evokes both that of the chef and CBGB, the club that was nearby: 299 Bowery (Houston Street), (212) 933-5300.
Opening This Week
THE PALACE GATE The courtyard outside the Villard Houses of the Palace Hotel and its restaurant, Gilt, open June 5. Informal fare and lavish desserts will be served with inventive cocktails from late afternoon through the evening: 455 Madison Avenue (50th Street), (212) 891-8100.
BROOKLYN STAR Joaquin Baca’s bar offers casual American food, some of it cooked in a wood-fired oven. It opened on May 22, and still awaits its liquor license: 33 Havemeyer Street (North Seventh Street), Williamsburg, Brooklyn, (718) 599-9899.
MESA COYOACAN Ivan Garcia, the chef and a partner in this Mexican spot that opened on May 29, said his cooking is “very traditional, home style, like from my mother and grandmother.” The roots are in Mexico City: 372 Graham Avenue (Skillman Avenue), Williamsburg, Brooklyn, (718) 782-8171.
RYE Vintage décor sets the tone in this transformed bodega. There are 10 ryes at the bar, and the chef and co-owner, Cal Elliott, formerly of Dressler, serves inventive American fare: 247 South First Street (Roebling Street), Williamsburg, Brooklyn, (718) 218-8047.
VELOCE PIZZERIA Sara Jenkins is making square pizzas in what had been the wine bar Solex. Frederick E. Twomey, owner of the Bar Veloces, is a partner: 103 First Avenue (Seventh Street), (212) 777-6677.
Chef on the Move
Nick Anderer, executive sous-chef at Gramercy Tavern, will be executive chef at the restaurant that Danny Meyer will open this fall in the Gramercy Park Hotel.