Daniel Boulud On Why DANIEL Has Thrived For Three Decades - Exclusive

These days, Daniel Boulud presides over a restaurant group that spans several continents and different types of cuisine, but it all started with DANIEL. The chef's New York City flagship was his first foray into being a chef-owner, and it's been an acclaimed hotspot ever since it opened in 1993. Unlike some restaurants that lose their step over the decades and start coasting on name recognition, DANIEL is as vital and exciting today as it was on day one — it still boasts two Michelin stars and a three-star review from The New York Times.

Tasting Table spoke with Boulud in an exclusive interview to mark DANIEL's 30th anniversary, and we asked the chef the secret to his namesake restaurant's impressive longevity. For him, it boiled down to never staying complacent and always updating both the food and the décor. Of the food, he said, "It keeps evolving ... The evolution of the restaurant — the cuisine keeps being very French at the core, but we always embraced seasonality, we always embraced culture, we always embraced technique." This is reflected in how DANIEL keeps on bringing its iconic past dishes back in new forms. For example, "The Paupiette of Sea Bass wrapped in potato with red wine — we have done 15 different interpretations of that with the combination of the sea bass, the potato, the leeks, and the red wine sauce."

This penchant for reinvention is also observable in Daniel's interior, which changes every decade. "Every 10 years, we completely redo the restaurant, a full refresh and redesign, and we keep maintaining it."

DANIEL is a masterpiece of seasonality and hospitality

Daniel Boulud is quite proud of the fact that DANIEL isn't like other Michelin-star restaurants that only serve a tasting menu — in those restaurants, the chef basically tells diners what to eat, but at DANIEL, customers have more choices. "DANIEL has never been doing only tasting menus. It's a real restaurant. My life would be easier if I had to do just a tasting menu, but that's not the case."

He is also grateful to New York City for supporting his restaurant for so many years, and he considers DANIEL to be more of a New York institution than a temple of French cuisine, although he is a French chef. "DANIEL was born in New York. It's a New York restaurant, but by definition has French DNA."

Ultimately, cooking seasonally is at the root of Boulud's cooking philosophy, and thus is a big key to his continued success. "Because of seasonality, each season, there is a renewal of things that you are familiar with and there is a renewal of things you discover during each new season or a renewal of things you forgot and bring back. There is definitely a cycle of life in our menu that is part familiar and part very new."

You can dine at DANIEL at its location on 60 E. 65th St. in Manhattan Tuesday-Sunday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.