March 3 (Bloomberg) -- Chef Daniel Boulud recalls his parents giving away extra rabbits, squabs or cheese from the family farm near Lyon, France, to their less-fortunate neighbors.
Since coming to Manhattan, the restaurateur, 55, has emulated his parents. He donates food, time and chefs to fundraisers. In the charity auction world, Boulud is regarded as a rainmaker whose feasts sometimes lure bids bigger than a Bentley’s price tag.
In 2005, Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong Foundation auctioned off two Boulud dinners for 14, including the cyclist and actor Robin Williams. Two bidders pledged a total of $600,000 (or $300,000 each) in just seven minutes.
“To be able to use the power of being a great chief and the power of having people pay for the privilege is unique,” he said. “I feel I am doing something good with my reputation.”
Boulud, whose gastronomic empire includes 12 restaurants, a signature line of smoked Scottish salmon and cookbooks, will host a $1,000-per-person fundraiser for New York’s Citymeals-on-Wheels at his Manhattan restaurant Daniel.
He expects the dinner, called “Burgundy, Bordeaux, Black Truffles & Blue Jeans,” to raise $500,000 for the nonprofit, which provides more than two million hot meals yearly for the homebound elderly. One ticket buyer whose identity he wouldn’t disclose donated an additional $50,000 to the dinner’s proceeds. Tables for 10 at $25,000 each sold out about two weeks ago.
Boulud wants attendees to let their hair down and come in blue jeans or other casual clothing. The dinner’s highlights include Maine diver scallops and roasted poulard and a paired selection of fine wines from Bordeaux and Burgundy.
Marseille Chef Visits
Boulud also asked fellow three-Michelin-star chef Gerald Passedat of Le Petit Nice to come from Marseille to assist him. Passedat will serve his famous loup de mer laced with black truffles and a vacherin for dessert.
“I thought it would be nice to bring a colleague like Gerald over who has never cooked in New York,” Boulud said.
Boulud captured the spotlight in the French culinary world at age 14 when he was nominated as a candidate for best cooking apprentice while working at Lyon’s now-defunct restaurant, Nandron. He went on to work under some of the country’s master chefs such as Georges Blanc and nouvelle cuisine pioneers Michel Guerard and Roger Verge.
After sharpening his skills in Copenhagen, he came to the U.S. to become the chef of the European Commission’s delegation in Washington. That led to the job of executive chef at the New York Hotel Plaza Athenee’s Le Regence.
Then he landed one of New York’s prestige culinary gigs when he became Le Cirque’s executive chef in 1986. In 1993, he launched Daniel on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and relocated it in 1998 to the site of the former Mayfair Hotel on Park Avenue at 65th Street. At the suggestion of a friend, Boulud commemorated the old location’s closing with a Citymeals fundraising event.
“Supporting Citymeals is a way to say thank you to the people who built New York City and a generation of people who have been forgotten,” he said. “These people cannot cook a meal themselves.”
(The sold-out fundraiser for Citymeals-on-Wheels is Sunday at 5:30 p.m. at Daniel, 60 E. 65th St. If you’re hoping for cancellations, wait-list information is: +1-212-687-1290 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
To contact the writer on this story: Patrick Cole in New York at email@example.com.
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