Owner of one of New York’s most famous restaurants, Lyonian chef Daniel Boulud has been an integral part of the city’s fine dining scene for almost three decades.
Here, he chats with Elite Traveler about the future of fine dining and who he thinks is the top chef on the planet.
Congratulations on coming second in the Elite Traveler Top 100 Restaurants. How does it feel to be recognized by the public in this way?
Elite Traveler readers visit so many great restaurants in the world, so it is especially rewarding when we make an impact on them.
What is the secret to maintaining a globally successful restaurant over such a long period of time?
DANIEL appeals to our locals and travelers from around the world alike. We hold ourselves to the highest standard of service, and select the best suppliers and ingredients.
Do you have a current favorite DANIEL dish?
My favorite dish will always be the one that best highlights the season we are in. For the spring, that means a dish with wild mushrooms like morels and girolles, with fiddleheard ferns, crayfish, young spring lamb.
Who do you rate as the top chef in the world right now?
I think Grant Achatz (chef-owner at Chicago’s Alinea, winner of this year’s Elite 100) is the top chef in the world now. Grant is one of the most visually creative and interesting chefs of his generation. He is inspiring many in the industry.
What is the best meal you’ve had in the past 12 months?
I was very happy having a meal at Flocons de Sel, in Megeve, France. They cook with natural ingredients they harvest from the mountains, so you really feel the sense of the place you are dining in.
What drives and motivates you more than anything?
My young talent in the kitchen, and what, as a whole, we can create together.
Which young chefs would you tip for the future?
Definitely Corey Lee (of San Francisco’s Benu). Corey has an exceptional background as a chef at The French Laundry. He is extremely strong in French cuisine, but inspired by his Asian roots, creating very impressive and interesting food at his restaurant Benu in San Francisco.
What’s the future of fine dining, in your opinion?
There is not an excellent fine dining establishment that will be lowering their standards- the real change will be more emotional, personal and creative experiences in fine dining, that is already happening.
Is there something people don’t know about you that they might be surprised by?
That I get seven hours of sleep a night!