UPPER EAST SIDE — Few New York chefs enjoy the kind of fame Daniel Boulud has earned over the past 32 years.
The onetime executive chef of Le Cirque who is now the creative force behind more than a dozen restaurants around the globe — including NYC's Daniel, Bar Boulud, Épicerie Boulud, DBGB Kitchen and Bar, Boulud Sud, Café Boulud, DB Bistro Moderne and Bar Pleiades — has become a household name synonymous with haute cuisine.
The powerhouse restaurateur, who hails from Lyon, France and lives on the Upper East Side with his wife, Katherine, doesn't stop working when he leaves the kitchen. And he's turned an eye toward charitable work, as with an upcoming dinner to benefit Citymeals-on-Wheels.
In preparation for the event, Boulud dished to DNAinfo New York about his favorite city eateries, his fondness for banh mi sandwiches and his must-order picks from the city's Greek diners.
Where do you go grocery shopping for yourself?
On the rare occasion I cook at home, I usually grocery shop in the basement of my building, the underbelly of restaurant Daniel. I live upstairs from the restaurant. I take fresh ingredients such as produce, meat, fish from the walk-in refrigerators or more rare seasonal ingredients. For spices, I go to La Boîte à Epices for spices and to Épicerie Boulud, my retail market, for fresh breads and condiments.
Where in the city do you like to go when you want to decompress?
In the spring and fall to Central Park, or to Randall’s Island to hit some golf balls. But my favorite place to decompress is the back terrace of my apartment. It’s nice to relax at home and have a little peace and quiet.
What's your favorite thing to order in a Greek diner?
It has been a few years since I’ve frequented a Greek diner, but when I was relocating Daniel from its original location — where Café Boulud is now — to its current location — the former Le Cirque — I spent a lot of time at 3 Guys on Madison Avenue between 75th and 76th Street. My go-to meal was a Greek omelet with spinach, tomatoes and feta.
Fusion cuisines are so popular today — which two types of food do you find to be the most harmonious together?
I love French-Vietnamese. Indochine on Lafayette Street downtown is very good. Le Colonial on 57th Street has been open just as long as Daniel, doing authentic French-Vietnamese food. They are a New York City classic.
What's your favorite restaurant for marking a special occasion?
The very traditional and spectacular La Grenouille.
What's your favorite restaurant for a quick bite?
Since I have seven restaurants of my own in New York City, my "quick bites" are typically at one of them. If I’m on the go I grab a bahn mi sandwich from Épicerie Boulud: house-made Thai sausage, country pâté and jambon de Paris on a french roll with herb salad, radish and carrot slaw, and jalapeño mayonnaise.