First, it’s a life-size mosaic in the Second Ave. subway. Now its his very own holiday: Today is Daniel Boulud Day up at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, which assembled a program of special projects as he visits campus to focus on mentorship and French cuisine.
The chef owner of Daniel, Cafe Boulud, Bar Boulud, DBGB — close to 20 in Dinex Group — has been known for his focus on mentoring, with an emphasis on his website, his book, Letters to a Young Chef, and his founding of Ment’or BKB Foundation with Thomas Keller and Jérôme Bocuse to develop new generations of American chefs. He has even introduced tasting menus to second-graders at Brooklyn’s PS 295. Restaurateurs who’ve worked under him include Gavin Kaysen, David Chang, and Alex Lee.
There’s evidence of an emphasis on mentoring when dining at Cafe Boulud, with the voyage series that encourages staff to research, collaborate, and explore. Le Voyage is part of a menu that includes La Tradition, La Saison, and Le Potager.
This season has introduced a voyage to New Orleans that stretches through April, as executive chef Aaron Bludorn steers the menu he created with Jason Goodenough, one of his closest friends from Culinary, and head chef at Carrollton Market in New Orleans.
Bludorn wanted to be as authentic as he could get in terms of technique and ingredients that would resonate with New Orleanians. In addition to touring with Goodenough, he studied up on methods for shrimp gumbo, the second course, with potato remoulade, and in-house smoked andouille. There’s also Gulf-caught bronzed redfish in a recipe inspired by the late Paul Prudhomme, along with a creole-spiced pork with collards and crispy boudin. Dessert is a cafe brulot, with cognac chiffon, burnt orange, spiced chocolate crémeux, and coffee ice cream.
Mentoring extends beyond the head chefs, with a Colombian menu from sous chef Cesar Gutierrez, a few months ago that included the food of his youth, with dishes like ceviches mariscos, deep-fried snapper, and bandeja paisa. Le Voyage will transition to a new region in May.