CHEF DANIEL BOULUD
French chef and restaurateur Daniel Boulud is a master of both traditional
French cuisine and more adventurous
culinary flourishes. He’s chef-owner of
award-winning restaurants, including
the flagship two-Michelin-star DANIEL,
one-Michelin-star Cafe Boulud, contemporary Parisian eatery db bistro moderne, charcuterie-focused Bar Boulud,
Mediterranean-oriented Boulud Sud —
and that’s just in New York. With numerous James Beard awards (among many
other awards) under his toque blanche,
he continues to attract diners to his restaurants, offering memorable
dishes centered on tradition.
What is the most elaborate food and beverage function you ever
planned for a group?
I did the 75th anniversary of Time magazine at Rockefeller Center,
where there were people of the year and anybody who was important
in any field — politics, sports, tech, fashion, cinema, business — they
were all there. It was the biggest gathering I’d ever seen in my career.
Christopher Reeve was there, Gorbachev was there, Bill Gates was
there, all the living former American presidents. For that, you’re serving 800 people and they’re all VIP. I made a wonderful crab salad to
start. After that was a lamb Champvallon — a dish of potato, onion,
and lamb chop with herbs inside and that was braised for hours, so it
was falling off the bones. It was very rustic and country-style cooking.
They loved it — it wasn’t about “I love my meat well done” or “I
love my meat rare.” Sometimes you have to accommodate based on
the number of people you serve and how sure you are that you’re
going to please everyone with something unexpected. It was a crowd-pleaser, with everyone raving about it. We cooked it in 140 copper
pots that the waiters served directly out of.
In September, at DANIEL, I am doing a charity gala for which I’m
co-chair with Thomas Keller — Ment’or. I’ll have 14 chefs cooking
with me. Sometimes we have special events where we have French
chefs coming to join us, which is super fun as well.
What high-end trends are you seeing now?
We are very conscious that when you do an a la carte menu, every
course is balanced. When you do a multicourse tasting menu with
a guest, they know who they are inviting, who they are entertaining,
and what their friends or guests or business partners will like to have.
If they say “let’s have red meat,” we have so
many options, from squab to duck to lamb
to venison, and of course there is beef (we
have a fantastic farm from Midland, TX,
where they have the wagyu beef, and we
also serve that in our private dining area).
What strategies are there for groups
without big budgets?
Catering is a very different proposition
than dining at the restaurant. It’s a one-on-one relationship. In the restaurant, they
have more confidence they can leave it to
us, but with catering, they want to take
control in the decisions of everything.
What are some of the most popular ingredients right now?
We always have a seasonal menu at DANIEL — we have foragers and
fishermen working for us, and the menu is very much tied with the
current a la carte that we have. It depends on the style of the party or
time of the day. For special events, at lunch at DANIEL, we may have
a launch of a new brand of cosmetic or new fashion brand that have
a relation with health or well-being, and we try to connect the dishes
with that — it might be vegetarian choices in our menu.
In the spring, we had a salad with fresh heart of palms from Hawaii
— it’s a beautiful product, very crisp, very delicate. We also have sea
lettuce — between cucumber and lettuce and very delicious when
lightly steamed and seasoned, served with light seafood.
Seafood is always in demand: lobster, langoustine (we have beauti-
ful light langoustine from Scotland), crab from Maine, or king crab
from Alaska. Sea urchin is good for cocktails.
CHEF CAT CORA
The chef, author, restaurateur, and television host is best known for her featured role as the first female “Iron Chef” on Food
Network’s Iron Chef America. Since then, she has shattered the glass
ceiling as one of the first females to dominate the historically male
culinary industry and has blazed her own trail, becoming the first
woman inducted into The American Academy of Chefs Culinary
Hall of Fame. Cora has since been featured extensively on a number
of television shows, most recently as co-host on Bravo’s Around the
World in 80 Plates as well as Fox’s My Kitchen Rules. She has opened
more than 18 restaurants across the U.S. and globally, including: Cat
Cora’s Kitchen, Ocean by Cat Cora, Cat Cora’s Gourmet Market,
Kouzzina by Cat Cora at Disney World, CCQ at Macy’s, Cat Cora’s