Daniel, it's been 7 years since your last book. What's changed?
When I wrote Cooking with Daniel Boulud, I was still at Le Cirque. I went on and opened Restaurant Daniel, closed Restaurant Daniel, opened Caé Boulud, and re-opened Restaurant Daniel in the old Le Cirque space.
While working on the menu for the Café Boulud opening, there was an extraordinary creative flow in my kitchen. The idea for this book came during that period of intense exploration and new ideas. It is a more unconventional cookbook than my first book and a very strong reflection of how I really cook. There is a strong emphasis here on traditional and seasonal cooking. Dorie and I took these dishes from the restaurant menu and really made them practical and do-able, without losing the integrity or spirit of the dish.
Café Boulud is now a year old and continues to evolve. It's like a culinary think tank, and this book captures that excitement.
Dorie, you have co-authored books with Julia Child (the best-selling Baking with Julia) and Pierre Herme (the International Association of Culinary Professional's 1998 Cookbook of the Year, Desserts by Pierre Herme). How did these collaborations start?
I've been writing about food and the chefs who make it for almost 20 years. (In fact, I first met Daniel in 1987 when I was writing about him for Elle magazine.) But it wasn't until five years ago, when I was first asked to write Baking with Julia that I began to collaborate on books with chefs. It was then, working with Julia Child and 26 bread bakers and pastry chefs, that I realized how much I enjoyed the challenge—and puzzle—of bring their ideas and recipes to home cooks.
Daniel, this book comes from many parts of your life—childhood on the family farm, years in the great kitchens of Europe, and of course, your career in America. It has an almost autobiographical feel...
This is the food that means the most to me. These dishes came from and were inspired by some of the most important people and experiences of my life. I hope in turn it inspires others.
Dorie, you call yourself a "translator." Can you explain?
I translate the language and techniques of the trained chef into a language and set of techniques that home cooks—even novice home cooks—can understand and use. Daniel and I worked on every recipe together, and then I deconstructed the recipes, finding ways to make them easy to do at home with the kinds of tools, equipment and, most important, skills that most home cooks have. I've added do-ahead information to the recipes so that those of us without a kitchen full of cooks can make dishes that live up to Café Boulud standards.
Daniel, why do your refer to yourself as a "French-American" chef?
The first 15 years of my career were in Europe, the second 15 years here. I realized that part of becoming American had to do with balance. I grew up in France but am drenched in American culture. Those two facts influence me equally now. I am French-American as is my food. This year is my 30th anniversary as a chef and this book is a perfect way to celebrate.
Daniel, any parting words of advice for the home cook? Yes! Ingredients! Ingredients! Ingredients! Make the effort to find the best, the freshest, the most flavorful. Because it all starts with the ingredients. Luckily today, many things are readily available everywhere, and the diversity is wonderful. Really, I am 25% responsible for a dish. Ingredients do the rest.
Daniel Boulud's Café Boulud Cookbook
By Daniel Boulud and Dorie Greenspan
Scribner, November 1999
Reprinted by permission.
This page created November 1999
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