NYCWFF Panel Talks: Family Meal with Daniel Boulud

By Kelly Dobkin  |  October 19, 2013

This afternoon we returned to the Bumble and Bumble Theater for Family Meal: A Conversation with Daniel Boulud, which was moderated by Boulud alum Gail Simmons (Top Chef) and other vets including cronut king Dominique Ansel, Lee Hanson and Riad Nasr (formally of the Keith McNally family - Balthazar, et al), Lior Lev Sercarz (La Boite) and Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern. The conversation began with each chef describing their stints working for Boulud and what they learned. Ansel, this year's undeniable superstar, brought one of his beloved cronuts and sliced it up into pieces to give all the chefs a taste. (Most, if not all, had never had one since they are so highly coveted.) We learned that he's a meticulous planner, and that working for Boulud taught him how to be spontaneous. Also, Ansel never lost his cool in the kitchen. Boulud on Ansel: "He knows how to delegate, he never sweats."

Lior shared one of his early moments working for Boulud, in which he delivered exactly what he believed the chef wanted, only to be met with the response, "Between what I told you and what I mean is like ten miles." We also learned that Boulud is a party animal, and not a stranger to curses in the kitchen, but in his later days he's softened a bit. Or become more "tender," as he would put it himself, "but not soft."

Ansel was self-deprecating about French chefs, saying, "French people are obnoxious and they think they're the best, it's true." Replied Boulud, "You're more French than I am." It seems Ansel learned to get off his high horse a bit while working with his mentor. Also confirmed: Nasr and Hanson are working on a new project after leaving the McNally group, but details weren't shared.