Essays by Bill Buford, Photographs by Thomas Schauer
Daniel Boulud, one of America’s most respected and successful chefs, delivers a definitive, yet personal cookbook on his love of French food.
From coming of age as a young chef to adapting French cuisine to American ingredients and tastes, Daniel Boulud reveals how he expresses his culinary artistry at Restaurant Daniel. With more than 75 signature recipes, plus an additional 12 recipes Boulud prepares at home for his friends on more casual occasions.
DANIEL is a welcome addition to the art of French cooking. Included in the cookbook are diverse and informative essays on such essential subjects as bread and cheese (bien sur), and, by Bill Buford, a thorough and humorous look at the preparation of 10 iconic French dishes, from Pot au Feu Royale to Duck a la Presse.. With more than 120 gorgeous photographs capturing the essence of Boulud’s cuisine and the spirit of restaurant Daniel, as well as a glimpse into Boulud’s home kitchen, DANIEL is a must-have for sophisticated foodies everywhere.
Twenty years ago Daniel Boulud opened Restaurant Daniel. It quickly became a New York favorite and a fixture on the national dinning scene. It also served to propel Daniel Boulud into the spotlight. To celebrate this twentieth anniversary, the chef has just released his first book about his flagship restaurant. In telling the history Daniel Boulud has amassed a collection of recipes stories and photos. Each of which has in someway played a part in the story of this now iconic establishment. Daniel Boulud recently took some time to talk to us about his new book.
BAF: This book almost seems like a family album of sorts.
Daniel Boulud: That’s true, I have always been inspired by the people I work with, the people I cook with, the people I live with. The people I travel, I mean the people I meet when I travel and all that, and the book is of course it’s about Daniel, it’s about New York. It’s about this big family who works with me here, around, and how we sort of the recipe gets created because sometimes the combination of talent together and one takes a trip to Asia. The other one takes a trip to South America. The other one remembers his grandmother.
I mean between me and my chefs and all that we always do different. I mean we have different ways of being inspired to cook dishes and to create dishes, and I think the book kind of give it well.
BAF: With so much history you have with the restaurant, was it hard to narrow everything and come up with the collection you have now?
Daniel Boulud: Yes, I mean the book, the idea was really about Daniel and I think when it comes to the Bistro’s and all that. I think it has very much the same sort of emotional connection as well.
BAF: Was that the original vision just to celebrate the 20 years of Daniel?
Daniel Boulud: Well, yeah plus also I wanted to honor my team here with a beautiful book, to crystal the time and the life of Daniel and we never really did that before. I think many books were unrelated to the life of Daniel and I think into that, also I wanted to also remind people that besides the food we do everyday at Daniel there is also the kind of food I enjoy cooking for special occasions, for myself, for friends and that was the iconic recipe in a way.
BAF: It seems a lot of people seem to forget the roots of French food are fairly basic and straight forward.
Daniel Boulud: Yeah, very much. I mean basically the root of French food is; based on the market, based on the season, based on the region. But often the seasonality and the market is what drives the food and the simplicity of it sometime is just up to the application to making it very French.
BAF: And you’re from Lyon, which is a wonderful food town. I was wondering if you would talk a little bit about the growing in the environment of the food and the culture and the history…
Daniel Boulud: Well Lyon was definitely a town with a lot of bountiful… A bounty of food every season and also you know between the north and the south really Lyon. I mean you go south of Lyon and you are starting to be in the south of France. You go north of Lyon – you are in the north of France. You go east and you are in Alps. You go west and you are in the more rugged sort of [inaudible 00:05:37] and I think geographical situation made Lyon very powerful when it came it food, and when it came to be surrounded by amazing region who had some of the best wine, best food, and best chefs.
BAF: As a child this really inspired you? Living in Lyon and everything, being surrounded by all this?
Daniel Boulud: Yeah, of course. I mean as a child living on the farm and really having a sense of normality because you only sell what you can harvest and you only eat what you harvest as well. We don’t, you know on the farm when you grow a lot of stuff or you raise a lot of different things, you raise it with a purpose to sell it as well, but you also raise it with a purpose of eating it. And so basically every week, every month there was always something new popping up in the farm.
Like right now I receive a picture of my parents and we are not doing the farm as much in product. But they had maybe, I don’t know 40 pound or 50 pounds of black trumpet (mushrooms), and they’re going clean them all. The wild black trumpet coming from the field, they’re going to clean them all and they’re going to dry them and they’re going to have black trumpet for the rest of the year, and it’s everything like that.
Either you jar your food during the summer for the winter or the winter for the summer, and you also dry your food, you jar your food and you cure the food also, for the things you want to keep. Also for the things you eat every day, you just have it and eat that very fresh, like that.
BAF: Starting from a young age you really had that connection to the food from the source.
Daniel Boulud: Yes and I think going to Lyon and working with some of the best chefs there, it was really unique. Because you had I mean next to you everyday when you are, 14, 15 – 16 years old, you have the best of the best. The best of the best next to you and I think you grow up and it make you dream about those guys. Those big chefs where you know as a young cook of course you dream.
It’s like if you learn about music, you want to become best musician one day
BAF: You worked with Roger Verger and Georges Blanc, certainly two very different chefs and in different parts of the country and experienced different techniques and styles and different products.
Daniel Boulud: Yes of course and every region in France was different. I mean every region in France was a different experience and that’s what we call in France when you are a young chef, you do the Tour de France. Where the Tour de France is when you go around France and you basically try to discover every region and learn from every region you go and work for. So I did the South of France, I did the south west, I did Burgundy. But then I always travelled to Alsace, to Brittany, Normandy. So, that you know I think France has still a lot.
What’s amazing in France is not only about the chefs and the restaurants, but it’s about everything who is connected to food. From the charcutier, to the boulangerie, to the patisserie, to the chocolatier. To the people who make the cheese, the cheese makers and they take it to the highest heart of perfection.
And they carry the tradition.
BAF: Certainly there is that unique appreciation the French seem to have for food and not just sitting down and eating but just the harvest time and the creation, the manufacturing.
Daniel Boulud: Yes, and how to, I mean the art of making something seasonal feel accessible. I mean when you have an amazing cheese, while it is mechanized. It is like wine, I mean cheese for me is like wine, where you need today the technology to be able to make the best out of it. But clearly the tradition and the expertise is there.
And there is no compromise in the quality of making things.
BAF: There are always people saying that technology is taking over and fast food is coming in. Are people worried about that tradition slipping away.
Daniel Boulud: It’s true and there is a lot of young people who realize they have a heritage from their family and they should worry about making sure that they can carry that heritage. So I think it’s going to be for the best.
BAF: Bill Buford wrote some essays in your book. I guess emerged himself in the French culinary scene in Lyon, I believe.
Daniel Boulud: Oh, Bill of course. So after a part of the book, so of course the cusine of Daniel and the essay, we have a lot of essay in the books. We are talking about the things making the restaurant special. But then there is also Bill Buford and the economic recipe and Bill has spent four years in France, lately. He just came back and I think he has a ton of observations and a ton of, I think, messages he want to really convey about French Cuisine. So I think it is going to be very interesting to see what book he’s pulling out next year.
BAF: The photos in your book are absolutely beautiful.
Daniel Boulud: Yes, Thomas Schauer. Thomas Schauer comes from a small village in Austria and he’s a wonderful photographer. I think you should have to interview him because if you ever do a piece on food photography. I mean the art of shooting photography with food, I think is really one of the most natural subjects of this guy.
BAF: What was the creative process on this book like? You mentioned you had a very good editor.
Daniel Boulud: Karen Murgolo the editor of Grand Central Publishing, which is a division of Hachette. She was really fabulous, she really…pulled the project from the beginning and never argue or never put pressure on us that maybe we were going to far or out of line. I think we tried to be very respectful to our plan but it, at the same time she felt very obligated to not cut down and I think it was for the best at the end.
Because you know normally they have a plan and they stick to the plan, you know. They don’t want to do a book more than 350 page and they have a certain price in mind and at the beginning we had to raise the price half way through the project because we thought it was going to be cheaper but rather than trying to stick to that we went for completing the quality of the book.
BAF: What’s next? Any future books?
Daniel Boulud: Well for me I haven’t done anything yet I haven’t really made a plan to do something yet. But I am looking forward to start something new for sure, absolutely.
BAF: Nothing is carved in stone yet.
Daniel Boulud: No, but I would like do, I always love Bistro cooking. It has been also in my DNA for a long time now. I have been doing Bistro cooking for quite a long time and so maybe something in that direction. But right now nothing in place.
Booksaboutfood.com © 2013
“Just when you think you know everything about one of your closest friends, he surprises you with anecdotes, reflections and insight. French cuisine is in Daniel’s blood, but this book—the most personal he has written—goes well beyond the traditional rules and codes of French cooking. It’s an intimate look at Daniel as a chef, and a vivid portrait of Daniel as a person, highlighting the art and science in his iconic and regional cooking, and the humility that guides everything he does.”
—Thomas Keller, Chef/Owner of The French Laundry
“Daniel: My French Cuisine is a beautiful homage to not only French cooking, but also to its culture. Mastering techniques, and ultimately creating harmony, is what Daniel accomplishes brilliantly in this stunning book. I’m inspired by the exquisite photography and also by the riveting essays by Bill Buford that highlight the talent, curiosity, sense of hospitality and the legendary generosity of Daniel.”
—Eric Ripert, Chef/Co-Owner, Le Bernardin
“Reading Daniel: My French Cuisine, I experienced a very Proustian emotion; I was back at age 13 in my mother’s kitchen restaurant in Lyon. From Daniel’s remembrance of Chefs Nandron and Bocuse to the Lyon market and his coming to America, I was young again, cooking in France and New York. Thoroughly grounded in classical training, passionate and talented, Daniel has created an exciting, personal, and innovative cuisine in his multiple restaurants and has become a leader in the extraordinary rise of American cuisine of the last 20 years.”
—Jacques Pepin, Chef, Author, Teacher
“This book is a true representation of all that has contributed to the success and reputation of Restaurant Daniel over the past 20 years. My friendship with Daniel has spanned the last three decades, starting when we both began our careers in New York City. We have grown along a parallel path, and I am pleased to be able to call Daniel one of my oldest friends. I have a great respect for him as a man and as a chef.”
—Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Chef/Owner of Jean-Georges
“Grand tenors of the kitchen, such as my friend Daniel, never cease to enchant me. Daniel: My French Cuisine shows his extraordinary journey, marked by relentless conviction, overwhelming passion, his instinctual culinary intelligence, and just the right amount of ambition. Along the way he has cultivated his ceaseless inquisitive nature-the hallmark of visionary insight.”
—Michel Guérard, Chef / Owner Les Prés d’Eugénie – Michel Guérard