Chef Daniel Boulud on ‘the Places That Made Me’
With 15 restaurants around the world—including the new Bar Boulud at the Mandarin Oriental Boston—it’s easy to assume Daniel Boulud was born a culinary globe-trotter. But to this farm boy who grew up near Lyons, taking a trip meant trudging to the market and back. Here’s how he eventually discovered the world—and how that turned him into a chef.
1964: St.-Malo, France
“I was nine when I first saw the sea, on vacation near St.-Malo, in Brittany. We ate at a restaurant along the harbor, and when the waiter arrived with a towering plateau de fruits de mer royal, I was stunned! Its beauty and flavors marked me for life.”
1968-1969: Avignon, France
“I tasted Provence in a soupe de poisson cooked by my cousin Claudette. Ground rockfish bones gave it a unique texture. I rediscovered this culinary memory years later when I worked at Le Moulin de Mougins.”
1970: Lyons, France
1972: Basque Region, France
“In lieu of a vacation, my boss sent me to work near Biarritz, where a pinch of piment d’Espelette, a local chili pepper, changed me. In Lyons, we’d learned to season, not spice up, a dish. That summer, the piment was everywhere, and it was delicious.”
1981: Washington, D.C.
“When I arrived in D.C., chef Jean-Louis Palladin was revolutionizing French cuisine in America. Instead of importing ingredients, he traveled the U.S. to find the best purveyors. On my days off, we hung out at Bistro Français, where we reveled in the bourgeois cuisine of our youth.”
1984: Bali, Indonesia
“I spent a week in Bali with my girlfriend living in a sarong on $16 a day. But for her birthday, I called the Oberoi Hotel to book dinner. When we arrived, our table was encased in garlands of orchids. That evening was a lesson in hospitality and graciousness.”
1989: Rio de Janeiro
“Claude Troisgros invited me to cook for a charity event in Rio 25 years ago and introduced me to the Brazilian way of life: tropical fruits, exotic vegetables, and caipirinhas. What a culture shock! I dream of retiring in the shadow of Sugarloaf Mountain.”