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Chef Daniel Boulud, one of the
world’s top chefs, expands his empire
with a new wine bar at Lincoln Center
A great chef must be in sync with the seasons of food, as the hearty
cabernet-braised oxtail and root vegetables of fall and winter give
way to the baby peas, crayfish and morels of warmer days. World-renowned chef Daniel Boulud knows this perhaps better than anyone.
But that’s only part of the reason why he’s been so successful
for so long. At his restaurants in New York—most notably Daniel
on Manhattan’s Upper East Side—Boulud also appreciates the seasons of his customers’ lives: A young couple walks in, probably still
in college, and the gentleman has saved up all semester for a special
night out. Boulud makes sure his staff directs the couple to wines
that are splendid but won’t present a financial hardship. There’s no
need to embarrass or take advantage of the young man, he reasons.
Instead, he ensures a night to remember, and in a few years the couple returns and that young man proposes at one of Boulud’s tables.
Seasons pass, and the same woman comes in with friends, clearly
with a baby on the way. Boulud will see that she gets a meal that
bodes well for a healthy arrival. More years go by, and the couple
returns with a young son. Although other high-end establishment
owners wince at the prospect of antsy children disturbing their regular
patrons, Boulud whisks the lad into the kitchen and shows him how
meals are prepared over the blazing excitement of open flame. The boy
departs that night with an autographed chef’s toque, and it feels like it
did when the pilot on his first plane ride gave him wings.
by DENNIS MCCAFFERTY
photography by PETER MURPHY