Storied chef Daniel Boulud never even considered working in Paris. He left home outside Lyon, France, when he was in his 20s, settled on the Upper East Side, and he’s still there more than 30 years later. “Paris was scary. I thought I would get beaten up,” Boulud says. “New York never scared me, not even in the ’80s, when it was really scary.”
In his early years, Boulud lived in the Hotel Westbury and the Plaza Athénée and toiled in their kitchens. His longest commute was 10 blocks, though he ventured farther afield to gallivant with friends after hours. (He once paid a garbage truck driver to take him and some companions to a nightclub when he couldn’t find a cab.)
Boulud now has restaurants around the world, but he wouldn’t live anywhere else. He’s even been immortalized on the Second Avenue subway line by Brazilian mosaic artist Vik Muniz. “It’s like I was knighted in my zip code,” Boulud says. “That’s my princehood.”
He still lives above his workplace—only now his workplace is one of the world’s best restaurants. So it’s no wonder he loves to sip a Negroni cocktail downstairs at Restaurant Daniel (60 E. 65th St.), which is celebrating a quarter-century anniversary this year, or sit at his special table at Café Boulud down the street (20 E. 76th St.). “They know what I like,” he says.
In Good Taste
“If it’s Sunday night, I’ll call Mezzaluna (1295 3rd Ave.) and ask them to fire a Quattro Formaggio pizza, then jump in a cab to pick it up. I was there for the restaurant’s opening 30 years ago. It’s a gem.”
“For good roast chicken and French fries, I love Rotisserie Georgette.” (14 E. 60th St.)
“For me, the Upper East Side is the city’s cultural center, with all the museums, events and galleries. I love the Park Avenue Armory (643 Park Ave.). They have made a big effort to bring in world-class shows and performers.”
“The Frick Collection (1 E. 70th St.) is the best-kept secret in New York. It’s so beautiful. You can imagine how people lived at the turn of the last century.”
Now and Zen
“My son and I have visited every playground in Central Park. We love the remote-control sailboats at the Conservatory Water.” Enter Central Park at 76th and 5th Ave.
“There is also a beautiful garden and restaurant at the Asia Society (725 Park Ave.). It’s the quietest place.”
“When I opened Restaurant Daniel on 76th Street, Olivier Giugni was my florist. One day I told him, ‘Across the street is a little store—you should start your business there.’ That’s how he started L’Olivier Floral Atelier (19 E. 76th St.), 25 years ago.”
“When we want to get together with the team, we like Subway Inn (1140 2nd Ave.). It’s an industry hangout, so if you want to see chefs from other restaurants, you go there.”
— by Jeanne O’Brien Coffey