Daniel Boulud’s Culinary Empire

daniel boulud

With 13 restaurants/bars and three Épicerie Boulud locations, 10 books, several James Beard awards, multiple Michelin stars, a variety of World’s 50 Best distinctions and more, Daniel Boulud’s accolades seem to know no bounds. And it’s clear that he has earned every ounce of his massive success. Raised on a farm in Saint-Pierre-de-Chandieu, outside of Lyon, France, Boulud is somewhat unique in today’s world of celeb chefs in his resourcefulness—he grew up hunting and raising livestock; he can make his own wine and cheese; and he’s constantly investing in ways to be more efficient. In the world of fancy fine dining, at his core Boulud is sophisticated without pretense, with a warmth and charisma that make you eager to be a guest at his table. Now, after 25 years at the helm of his flagship restaurant Daniel in New York City, Boulud has a new restaurant on the horizon and continues to innovate while remaining rooted in tradition.

You grew up a country boy. How did your upbringing influence you?

We had big gardens, lot of livestock, we were making cheese, we were making our own ham and charcuterie and sausage, and we were making our own wine. It was just like a microworld of food and wine. I started helping from the age of 4, basically when I was useful to shell peas. On a farm, everybody is busy. Kids like me can’t stand five minutes without an activity. So shelling peas, breaking walnuts to make oil in the fall….there were always tasks to do with the harvest.

Did you always know you wanted to be a chef?

Once I went to a vacation with my parents in Brittany—maybe the revelation started there. We went to this restaurant on the beach in Saint-Malo and had a huge plate of fruits de mer and it struck me as maybe my greatest meal on earth. I was 10 years old. At 14, I told my parents that I didn’t want to go to school anymore and they didn’t know what to do with me, so they put me in a cooking school near Lyon because I wanted to cook. A month later, I told them I didn’t want to go to that school because the food was worse than at home and nobody was going to teach me anything good. Our [farm’s] best customer in the village found me a job at a restaurant called Nandron. I started in July/August. By September the hunting season started, and I basically spent September through November in the basement plucking birds.

How often do you go back to France?

I’m going back in July for two weeks at my home with my parents. Twenty five years ago I transformed the [family] farm into what I call a Club Med. I built a huge pool and poolhouse with a wood brick oven, wood barbecue and table where we can seat 30 people, tennis courts, pétanque fields. It’s always hard to leave.

daniel boulud daniel restaurant dining room
The iconic main dining room at Daniel.

What are you most proud of?

Having been able to open a business in New York, having been able to sustain 25 years with Daniel and make a name for myself in America and around the world as a chef, but also the impact of mentorship throughout all those years is the most rewarding. Of course the clientele’s loyalty is also something we take a lot of pride in. We earn the attention of people, but we have to keep the attention of people. Another [thing I’m proud of] was to have my portrait in marble in the [2nd Avenue 72nd Street] Subway. I’m basically going to be there for 100 years [laughs].

What was your reaction to seeing that for the first time?

I couldn’t believe it was life-sized and so prominent! I know the artist who did it and one day he just called me and said, “By the way, I need to take a picture of you, I’ll tell you later what I’m going to do.” I had no idea.

What do you love most about New York?

I love that it’s a relentless city that keeps giving to you and challenging you and rewarding you. While I’ve lived in America longer than in France, I’m still very French. It doesn’t matter where you come from and who you are, and what your religion or nationality, you feel comfortable in New York.

You’ve said that you still a have a lot you want to prove in the world of cooking. What do you mean by that?

At Daniel 25 years ago, I wanted to do it all. I wanted to do everything from very soulful bistro dishes to very refined gastronomic dishes. Then, little by little, I have been opening different businesses, I’ve been able to shed a little bit of things I was maybe doing for the passion of cooking, but maybe not for the right reasons for the restaurant. Today, it’s more about staying focused with restaurant Daniel and continuing to grow our reputation and excellence and training. I have a new restaurant coming up that is going to be very different from what I’ve done. It’s going to be in the fine dining realm but in a more up-to-date sort of style and composition around the food and ingredients. It will be called One Vanderbilt for right now, next to grand Central. It will be super fun. March 2021 is the projected opening. We’ll offer both a casual grab-and-go café with our fourth location of Épicerie Boulud as well as a new fine dining restaurant on the second floor overlooking 42nd with great ambition of cuisine and service. It’s too early to tell about the new concept, but it will be part of our family of fine dining along with Restaurant Daniel, Café Boulud and Boulud Sud.

daniel boulud spyce
Spyce has a modern vibe.

Because you weren’t busy enough already…

You only live once, what can I say. [laughs]

What culinary trends are you loving right now? Are there any that you feel are overrated or overdone?

How hospitality and technology are converging. I’m working with four MIT graduates who recently opened Spyce in Boston, [MA,] a fast-casual dining destination centered around an innovative robotic kitchen. When one of the founders first reached out with a video link, I was intrigued. I had never heard of a robotic kitchen before, let alone seen one. I went to Boston and was impressed by the technology and the possibility to offer people affordable, fresh and delicious meals in an efficient way. I was convinced that the robotic kitchen could provide the chef and cooks preparing the warm and tasty bowls with a new kind of precision and support. I was motivated to invest and excited to get involved with the young and talented Spyce co-founders. I also introduced them to Sam Benson for [the role of] executive chef, who previously worked for me at Café Boulud in New York but also had experience working in a fast-casual test kitchen. Together, we look for interesting and diverse flavor combinations using nutritious, simple and appropriately-sourced ingredients to ensure that each bowl is prepared with care by our team for guests to walk away from Spyce happy and satisfied.

What drives you crazy in the kitchen?

When the gas is turned on for no reason, when the water runs for no reason, when the lights are on for no reason, etc. Basically, when we are wasting energy.

Do your kids like your cooking?

My [eldest] daughter hates mushrooms because we live above the restaurant, and we were eating the food we make at Daniel very often [when she was younger], and there was always a lot of mushrooms in the fall and spring. Now I have a four-year-old, but he eats everything. The other day he was eating clams! I have an 11-month-old daughter who seems to be eating everything too.

What do you do in your downtime?

Well, I had a period of time where I had a little bit of time to myself, but now I have young children again. I try to have downtime with them, if we can call it that. Reading, watching movies, trying to play golf. I hope to play more tennis because I have a tennis court in the country. Now that my son is going to be 5/6 years old I hope to do more activities together. I’ll be in charge of the sports department. I’ll take him to soccer!

If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?

I think it changes every day. I’m now wishing for more time for myself. I’d love to do something artistic, at least to have a studio where I can just be with myself and paint or sculpt or build. So I hope, in the country, we’re going to do an artist studio there.

You’ve been involved with CityMeals on Wheels for a long time. Why is it so important to you?

There’s a large aging population in New York and they are not well enough to cook for themselves or go shopping or don’t always have the resources financially. We have been doing a gala at Daniel for the past 20 years and we’ve raised about $13 million so far. They serve 18,000 meals a day; that’s 2.1 million meals a year. It’s more than a meal—it’s a hand to support.

What words do you live by?

Excellence shall prevail!

Designer Connecticut Estate in Greenwich, CT

Address: 130 Field Point Circle
Bedrooms: 8
Baths: 9 full
Square feet: 12,899
Price: $25,900,000

It’s a rare opportunity to buy “The Pryory,” as 130 Field Point Circle is known. Designed by renowned NYC architectural firm Cross & Cross, the home—located in one of Greenwich’s most exclusive neighborhoods,—has 24-hour security, direct waterfront access with private beach, mooring, pool and tennis court and panoramic views of the Long Island Sound.

“Field Point Circle has been the home to those in the C-suite and leaders in the financial and business world since its founding at the turn of the century. Properties in this enclave rarely come on the market,” said Robin Kencel, associate broker at The Robin Kencel Group at Compass. “Those who want to live in a very private, ultra high-end, waterfront community would find perfection in Field Point Circle.”

great room in greenwich estate
The high-ceilinged Great Room has a pillared fireplace.

The home emanates a cozy environment throughout, with intricate ceiling and wood work emphasizing an attention paid to detail. The large pillared fireplace and seating accommodation in the great room make it the perfect place to entertain.

on the market home in greenwich, ct

The 3-story carved wooden staircase leads directly into the double living room with a view of the Long Island Sound. The windows and French doors open up to the private backyard.

The double island in this kitchen is ideal for cooking.

The kitchen has several windows to provide adequate natural light and the double islands are ideal for cooking and hosting. The adjoining breakfast room bodes well for any family meal or Sunday brunches at home.

Robin Kencel
robin.kencel@compass.com; 203-249-2943

A Gala to Gallup for with the New Canaan Mountain Troop

The New Canaan Mountain Troop hosted “Jump For Joy” at the Wee Burn Country Club in Darien, CT. Attendees engaged in dancing, along with the musical stylings of “Mind the Gap,” topped off with a dinner. To add to the festivities were silent and live auctions for guests in attendance. Donations from the Gala went toward therapeutic programs, scholarships for equine care and riding programs, education and training for instructors, and care for the donated horses and ponies.

Photographs by Cheryl Moss

Talking Kitchen Trends With Three Industry Experts

design market symposium

Expert panelists discussed the latest trends in kitchens at the 5th Annual Design Market Symposium hosted by Serendipity magazine at Aitoro Appliance in Norwalk, CT. Aitoro Appliance, known for its high-quality appliances, innovative technology and design and exclusive Monogram Experience, was the ideal location for an in-depth conversation about kitchens. Serendipity Home Editor Stephanie Horton moderated the panel, asking participants about trends and upgrades—and touching on everything from design to lighting to appliances. Panelists included Tony Aitoro, CEO of Aitoro Appliance, Peter Deane, Principal of Deane, Inc, and Christina Reed, Monogram Product Design Specialist. Guests dined on light bites from Aux Délices, and also celebrated the release of Serendipity’s special fall Design Market Digest issue.

Photographs by Cheryl Moss

Cocktails for a Cause with Ready to Empower

ready for empower

A group of dedicated supporters raised money to support Women’s Empowerment Programming in San Ramon, Costa Rica at L’Escale Restaurant in Greenwich, CT. Ready To Empower, a non-profit focusing on women’s empowerment in developing economies, was able to bring people together with the power and cohesiveness surrounding the message “Women’s Lives Matter!” Founder Amanda Ready lead the event with a Fund-A-Need paddle raise, a video, plus donations of silent auction items. Hundreds of women benefit from the work Ready To Empower does.

Photographs by Kristan Zimmer

Rooms for a Cause

rooms with a view

Rooms with a View, aiming to serve local charities in the Bridgeport area and support Native American missions in South Dakota, hosted A Weekend of Design at the Southport Congregational Church in Southport, CT. Partygoers visited The Shops which featured over 30 vendors and 12 participating designers, indulged in offerings such as lobster bisque, cocktails, comfort foods and more from local chefs, and enjoyed musical entertainment from Jazz Singer Rondi Charleston, while Rev. Paul Whitmore served as auctioneer. The designers, artists and vendors shared ideas and inspiration with attendees. Chairpersons for the event were Rosinne Chlala, Ann Franzen, Chris Philip, and Tracy Provost.

Dinner Party Tips from Chef Daniel Boulud

daniel boulud dinner party tips

After 25 years at Daniel, Chef Daniel Boulud’s empire continues to grow, and his passion and standards for his work are as high as they’ve ever been. Here, he shares with us his best dinner party tips.

Have a theme.

“One time I threw a party in my home where I had seven of the best chefs in New York cooking cheese fondue at the same time. Each one decided how to make theirs and of course there was competition. We’re talking Jean-Georges, Charlie Palmer…all the top chefs. It was a lot of fun.”

Limit the number of guests.

“If it’s a sit-down, try to limit how many people it will be,” Boulud says. “A good number is between 10 and 16 maximum. Otherwise you can’t spend time with friends.”

Play musical chairs.

One way to keep the conversation flowing: “Every course, you grab your glass of wine and your napkin and you move over” a couple of seats, Boulud says.

daniel boulud dinner party tips
Seriole fish and citrus cured hamachi

Choose food that’s not complicated to consume.

“[When] entertaining at home it should not be a challenge for the guest to eat,” Boulud says. “Don’t serve lobster in the shell; at home, keep it civilized” he says, with say, a risotto that you can eat elegantly.

Make it easy on yourself.

To keep stress levels down, serve family style or put food on platters so guests can serve themselves, Boulud says. “The main course is always a roast or a braise or something that has a wonderful aroma,” he says. He also recommends serving a dessert that’s premade, like a fruit tart plated with ice cream.

Celebrate the season.

For October, as an example, Chef Boulud loves this multi-course menu: “For an appetizer, a chestnut, apple and celery soup with foie gras. Then risotto with white truffle. Risotto is convenient for conversation, and with white truffle it smells yummy. To finish, you have a stew. Then after that, the cheese—always a stinky cheese, a blue cheese, a hard cheese like a comté, then an époisse, then a goat cheese. The cheese is important because then you can open another good bottle of wine! [laughs] Last, a fig tart with almonds and nuts and cinnamon ice cream.”

11 Cold Weather Skin Cures

cold weather skin cures

When temperatures dip, we start shopping for coats and sweaters to protect us from the elements. Experts say we should think about skincare the same way. “Dryness is the biggest problem—everyone, even those with oily skin, is susceptible to the drying effects of a winter climate,” says dermatologist Patricia Ceballos, MD, at Schweiger Dermatology Group’s New Rochelle, NY, location. Here’s why: Humidity lessens in cool weather, leaving skin vulnerable to transepidermal water loss—a condition that causes water to evaporate from the skin, leaving your face dry, dull, rough and flakey. And coming in from the cold doesn’t help, as indoor heat sucks moisture out of the air.

Simply adding a few key products (and tweaking your application techniques) will ensure your skin stays gorgeous all winter long.

Shorten your showers.

There’s nothing like a long, warm bath or shower after a cold-weather run or skiing. The problem is, hot water and soap strip skin of its natural oils. The longer you linger under the showerhead, the drier your skin will be—so take lukewarm showers, suggests dermatologist Mitchell J. Ross, MD, of Greenwich Medical Spa in Greenwich, CT, and keep them under five minutes.

Apply products while skin is still wet.

“Think of your skin like a wet sponge wrapped in Saran Wrap. In the winter, the Saran is broken,” says dermatologist Neil S. Goldberg, MD, who has practices in White Plains and Bronxville. When skin is wet, a moisturizer can pinch hit for the Saran by sealing in all of the moisture.

Slather on a better moisturizer.

Hyaluronic acid, also referred to as sodium hyaluronate, is the MVP of hydrating ingredients. It attracts moisture to the skin and traps it there (each hyaluronic acid molecule can hold 1,000 times its own weight in water). You want a moisturizer that contains more than one size of hyaluronic acid molecule, says Lynne Haven, MD, a dermatologist in Greenwich.

cold weather skin cures

Pour Moi’s Polar Day Cream ($35) is formulated for cold, dry conditions—when temperatures are low (20°F to 45°F) and humidity sinks to between 5% and 45%. It contains three sizes of hyaluronic acid molecules (large molecules that grab water from the atmosphere and small and medium ones that penetrate deep into the epidermis to steal water that’s been stored from the drinks and foods we consume). It also packs squalane oil, which helps skin stay hydrated in indoor heat, and shea butter, which creates a barrier to protect skin from winds and frost.

Layer on a serum. 

Serums are highly concentrated and super lightweight so they can delve deep down into the skin. Hyaluronic acid should be the star ingredient in your serum as well as your moisturizer. In addition, Ceballos says to look for ingredients like peptides (proteins that promote healthy, youthful skin), antioxidants like vitamin C, tocopherol, resveratrol, and niacinamide, and other moisturizers like Vitamin B5 and glycerin. Try SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Gel serum ($82), which combines hyaluronic acid with vitamin B5.

cold weather skin cures

Keep using sunscreen.

Winter days are short and gloomy, but UV rays can still sneak through. So cover up with gloves, hats and scarfs—and apply sunscreen to any remaining bare skin. Ross is a fan of eltaMD UV Daily Broad Spectrum SPF 40 ($27), a sunscreen packed with hyaluronic acid.

cold weather skin cures

Consider retinol.

Retinol is an anti-aging ingredient that boosts collagen production, smooths skin and evens out pigmentation. It doesn’t like sunshine (it breaks down in sunlight), which is why most people only use it at night. Being indoors all winter allows you to apply retinol in the morning instead (you can only use retinol once a day—either in the morning or at night). However, “you need to layer SPF over it,” says Diane Madfes, MD, a dermatologist in New York City and Greenwich. “You can get incidental UV exposure walking down the street and through your windows.”

However, if the retinol is aggravating your already irritated dry winter skin, cut back your usage to every other day or a couple times a week. Try Skin Better AlphaRet Overnight Cream ($110) if you have sensitive skin; those with normal skin should go for RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Daily Moisturizer with Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30 ($16.79).

cold weather skin cures

Ease up on exfoliation.

“I tell patients to decrease their exfoliation to once every two weeks during the winter,” says Madfes. When you do exfoliate, opt for a gentle mask that contains oatmeal or mild lactic, glycolic, or alpha hydroxy acids. Try Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Enzyme Mask ($58).

Try a peel instead.

Serious exfoliation is best left to the pros, who use chemical peels, which “can actually hydrate skin by removing the top epidermis layer so treatment products can penetrate better,” says Ross. He says peels can also create new collagen, which makes the skin thicker and healthier. Try the Glycolic Peel at Greenwich Medical Spa ($150). It requires no downtime, but creates a new, plump layer of skin.

Apply a hydrating mask.

“Hydrating masks form a barrier on the skin, increasing absorption of water. They are often saturated with antioxidant serums to increase the concentration in your skin,” says Madfes. Look for a sheet or gel mask containing hyaluronic acid and apply it twice a week. “I love how soft the skin feels after,” adds Madfes. Try Garnier SkinActive Moisture Bomb Super Hydrating Sheet Mask ($4).

Choose a gentler cleanser.

“Most people overcleanse,” says Goldberg. Cleansers remove the layer of oil off the top of the skin along with dirt, which leaves skin rough and dry. So choose a gentle, fragrance- and alcohol-free product and cleanse just at night. Try Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser ($12.49). “It’s the only cleanser that moisturizes while it cleans,” says Goldberg.

Don’t forget your body!

After showering, immediately douse your body from head to toe with a moisturizer that contains ceramides, says Haven. These are naturally occurring lipids (fats) that help strengthen the skin barrier and trap moisture. Try CeraVe Moisturizing Cream ($13 for 12 ounces, target.com).

Darien Home Wins Multiple Design Awards

waterside living in darien

What does it take to win not one, but five, Home Building Industry (HOBI) awards? It starts with an incredible team—just like the one that worked on 17 Brush Island Road in Darien, CT and was recently honored at the HOBI Awards Dinner. This property, currently on the market, has, in fact, been awarded five HOBI awards, including “Project of the Year,” which is selected among all categories state-wide.

Sitting elevated on 1.23 acres, this home is 7,900 square feet, has five bedrooms and five bathrooms and is listed at $7,250,000. We talked to the team behind this project to learn what it takes to create an award-winning property.

A Waterfront Living Experience

“The integration of the home into the private topography optimizes the natural, waterfront living experience. Every room and every exterior space has at least one elevated water view, and that is something very unusual,” says listing agent Stephan Von Jena . Every room has a different view and it’s not uncommon to see the ever-changing wildlife that is uniquely part of living on Brush Island.

darien brush island
An aerial view shows the 7,900 square foot home on 1.23 acres with 430 feet of shoreline. This property has a private dock, sandy beach, pool with automatic cover, green roof garden, and extensive landscaping and terraces.
darien brush island
The front of the house shows how the outside spaces integrate seamlessly with the unique natural surroundings.

darien brush island

Interior-Exterior Connection

How did this property come together? Architect Paul Cole Harris worked hard to find connections between the interior spaces with the unique outdoor setting, in part by bringing in natural materials that feel like they’re from the land the building occupies. “Along with a sense that much of the interior is handcrafted, this direction is evident and can be recognized in the home’s millwork, cabinetry, stone work, and stairs and rails. We backed this up with an underlying natural theme in our selection of lighting fixtures. If you look for it, it is obvious, and is highlighted in the family room with a large custom chandelier made of driftwood that could have been picked from the property’s shoreline.”

darien brush island
The family room features a dramatic, two-story stone fireplace and opens to the kitchen.
darien brush island
The kitchen is equipped with multiple islands and a built-in bar area. This room overlooks the pool, grilling area, and yard.

darien brush island

Casual, Yet Sophisticated Design

When putting the design of the interior together, Leia Ward says they were trying to achieve a feeling of casual sophistication. Ward, of LTW Design, staged the property.

“We knew we wanted there to be a dialogue in the interior of the home with the natural elements outside. To accomplish this, we used materials like knobby jute rugs, raw oak wood furniture, linen, teak and stoneware vases,” says Ward. Layering in all of these natural materials created a cohesive design experience going from the outside in. “We were brought in early on in the process, so the floors weren’t stained yet, the kitchen wasn’t installed, and fixtures were not in. Working with the developer and sharing our vision for the piece of art he created was a wonderful and collaborative process,” she said.

darien brush island
The upstairs of this home has five (optional 6th) en-suite bedrooms. The master suit (pictured here) has vaulted ceilings, a 5’ gas fireplace, and dressing and sittings rooms with a private balcony.

darien brush island

darien brush island
The lower level has 9’ ceilings, a bar, gym area, designated wine cellar, and two huge additional rooms for storage.

See a full walk-through of this property in the video below.

Stephan Von Jena
Sotheby’s International Realty

Stamford Peace Youth Foundation Hosts “Hoops, Books & Dreams” Gala  

The Stamford Peace Youth Foundation held its 2nd biennial “Hoops, Books & Dreams” gala at the Loading Dock in Stamford. Ernest Lamour, former CEO of the Stamford Family YMCA, and student athletes Edona Thaqi and Slywia Lapinski were honored.

At the event, which had a New York City SoHo loft vibe, thanks to the space, guests dined on food and drink from Abigail Kirsch Catering and took part in a silent auction. President and Founder Brian Kriftcher spoke to guests about the Stamford Peace Youth Foundation’s progress as a nonprofit. Since 2008, The Foundation, as well as the Stamford Peace and Beyond Limits Academic Program, have benefitted local youth on and off the court.

Photographs by Emily Masino