Place of birth
St Pierre de Chandieu, a small town near Lyon, France
Where are your current restaurants?
Daniel and DB Bistro Moderne are in New York; Café BOULUD is in New York and Palm Beach, Florida.
What is the most exciting, receptive city for today’s extraordinary chefs?
New York and Tokyo
Would you ever steal a special recipe from another chef?
A recipe, by definition, is never entirely proprietary; the great classics belong to the public domain and are ripe for re-interpretation by any creative chef. As in fashion and art, there are tendencies and directions all chefs borrow from. Still, a recipe alone is not what makes a dish successful. Ingredients, technique and caring are what make food delicious.
If you could cook for anyone, dead or alive, who would it be? A female guest, informed that blue jeans were not acceptable attire, proceeded to remove her trousers and parade naked through the dining room. Fortunately, she had a very nice ass.
Picasso, if we could plan the dishes together and have him paint the menu.
A female guest, informed that blue jeans were not acceptable attire, proceeded to remove her trousers and parade naked through the dining room. Fortunately, she had a very nice ass.
Who, in your estimation, is the first veritable modern culinary equivalent of Coco Chanel?
Julia (Childs) and the passion for cooking she has spread across America; Martha (Stewart) for making that passion accessible to every household!
Using fashion as a social index, what is the range of designer labels that one finds in the coat-check on the average night?
Dennis Basso for Winter; Roberto Cavali for Summer
What do you prize the most that money cannot buy?
My wife and daughter; good health; time
What was the single most shocking incident to take place in one of your restaurants?
Good shocking: Robin Williams giving an impromptu stand-up routine in the kitchen. Bad shocking: A female guest, informed that blue jeans were not acceptable attire, proceeding to remove her trousers and parade naked through the dining room. Fortunately, she had a very nice ass.
How does eroticism feature in some of your dishes?
One of my favorite dishes is our Chilled Oyster Velouté with Lemon Grass, Caviar and Sea Urchin. The flavors and textures are creamy, silky, briny, bursting, exotic, juicy and unctuous. It covers the erotic spectrum.
What is the food equivalent of, say, a drug high?
Warm Meyer Lemon Tartlet topped with a spoonful of Beluga caviar; white truffle shaved over a risotto with fontina — simple and sexy
Increasingly, it’s becoming ever clear that national boundaries or identities no longer inform or define a chef’s style. What are your thoughts on this?
While I have been in America — New York in particular — for over twenty years, I respect my traditional French heritage, although I allow it to be influenced by modern ideas and ingredients from around the world. Historically, French cooking has always had international influences by way of the flavors and ingredients brought home by French colonists and traders. American cooking today benefits from the huge variety of cultures that flow into the U.S. American cuisine benefits from this influx thanks to the open minded American spirit and boundless curiosity.
To what extent is Escoffier important to the contemporary chef?
Just as important as predecessor Careme (1780-1820s) was to Escoffier
Is Spain’s Ferran Adria momentarily or finally displacing France’s #1 position in culinary supremacy?
Not displacing but approaching it. Astounding technique, fleeting substance — are these enough to satisfy your appetite? What will remain of his mark on culinary history? Let’s see in twenty years. Personally, I am awed by him. Professionally, we should not be overwhelmed by him.
Are you orthodox about natural, as opposed to synthesized, ingredients?
YES! The core of good cooking is in fresh — and whenever possible, organic — ingredients. We often transform ingredients, but always begin with something perfectly fresh and natural.
What would be your last meal?
A family feast of Lyonnais dishes and lots of old Rhône wine, back home on my parent’s farm. Everything from the poultry to the vegetables and cheeses would be home-made or home-grown.