When Daniel Boulud was a child in Lyon, France, his mother made him chocolate birthday cake with apricots or pears.
Last night at his restaurant Daniel in New York, he marked his 57th birthday with a four-foot-high sculpture of hand-blown, spun and pulled sugar prepared by his pastry chef.
It was a grand finish to a five-course meal that nourished the stomach as well as the coffers of Citymeals-on-Wheels, where Boulud is a board vice president.
His 13th annual event for the charity raised $500,000 to deliver meals to homebound New Yorkers over the age of 60, said Citymeals-on-Wheels Executive Director Beth Shapiro.
The evening began with Shigoku oysters with Meyer lemon custard, served in the foyer.
That’s where Tom Tuft, a vice chairman at Lazard Ltd., greeted film producer Michael Lynne, and restaurateur Drew Nieporent talked champagne with Xavier Barlier, senior vice president at Louis Roederer USA.
Later, retailer Lillian Vernon, litigator Herbert Wachtell and Marchesa’s vice president of public relations Karla Barbosa were in the dining room admiring the L’Olivier Floral Atelier centerpieces of yellow and dark-orange calla lilies.
Boulud welcomed his co-hosts, Pascale and Thierry Gardinier, owners of Paris restaurant Taillevent and Relais & Chateaux hotel Les Crayeres in Reims. Taillevent’s chef, Alain Soliveres, took a bow, then disappeared into the kitchen as waiters served Boulud’s tiger jade abalone, with vodka beurre blanc and Ossetra caviar. The few bites were briny and rich.
Next Soliveres prepared a crowd-pleasing spelt risotto with parmesan and black truffle, followed by a famous Taillevent dish that was a little harder to love: duck breast and foie gras wrapped in pastry.
A live auction offered time to digest, and guests were restless for their caramel parfaits by the time Boulud started banging on a shiny new copper pan, his birthday gift from Citymeals-on-Wheels.
His point: to offer a paella dinner for eight in his home. Donald Tober, an owner of Sugar Foods Corp., paid $33,000 for the impromptu item, pan not included.
Boulud blew out the candle on his birthday “cake” with help from his daughter Alix, who is back in New York after working in Singapore as an analyst at the LVMH-backed private equity fund L Capital Asia.
“I want her to establish herself,” Boulud said. “Then she can get involved in a charity. By now she knows Citymeals-on-Wheels very well.”
(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)
-- Editors: Mark Beech, Jim Ruane.