Daniel Boulud once joined fellow chef Nobu Matsuhisa to cook at a benefit in Tel Aviv. Everything was going smoothly until a rabbi deemed Matsuhisa’s knife unkosher and confiscated it.
“I thought Nobu was going to commit murder,” Boulud said. Instead the Japanese restaurateur and chef made sashimi for 300 people using a kosher knife purchased at a supermarket.
No such mishap took place last night at Daniel, where Boulud welcomed back alumni of his kitchen -- including Cyrille Allannic, chef of the executive dining room at JPMorgan Chase & Co. -- to prepare dinner in honor of the restaurant’s 20th anniversary. The event, with a $1,250 ticket, benefited Citymeals-on-Wheels, which delivers meals to homebound seniors.
Among the 175 diners enjoying the uncommonly good-for-a-gala fare were Daniel Ziff of Ziff Brothers Investments LLC, Roberto Mignone of Bridger Management LLC, Izak Senbahar, president of the Alexico Group, and Christina Steinbrenner, wife of Hal Steinbrenner, co-chairman and co-owner of the New York Yankees.
To start things off: a signature cocktail, named “The Reunion,” crafted by Xavier Herit, head bartender at Experimental Cocktail Club. It consisted of gin, lemon juice, raspberry syrup, creme de violette and a decadent dash of absinthe, accompanied by a ball of ice encasing a black orchid.
The small bites included Korean freshwater eel with fermented Ssamjang, prepared by Hooni Kim, the chef of Danji and Hanjan, and poached white sturgeon with pine-nut butter by Nicholas Wilber of the Fat Radish.
Each dinner course was served two ways with the main ingredients chosen by Boulud: lobster and asparagus, followed by striped bass, then guinea hen. There was a lot of plate passing to sample the alternative dish.
Butter’s Alexandra Guarnaschelli served a Maine lobster roll with charred asparagus on black pepper brioche. Michael Anthony, the chef of Gramercy Tavern, made poached lobster with asparagus gazpacho.
“One of the tricks of cooking it well is cooking it very slowly in a butter sauce,” Anthony said.
For dessert, Francois Payard, of FP Patisserie offered macaron ice-cream sandwiches with coconut mango or pistachio raspberry. Citymeals supporters Donald and Barbara Tober received a surprise cake in honor of their wedding anniversary.
“Daniel has a knack for making you feel you’re right at home in the most beautiful, fanciest place in New York City,” said Gail Simmons, host of “Top Chef Just Desserts” and one of the event’s emcees.
Boulud helped guests bring home the Daniel experience with a live auction of 20 Daniel plates, signed by the participating chef-alumni, for $1,000 each. All sold in less than two minutes.
“I have a whole cellar more of plates,” Boulud said.
Last night’s event raised $562,787.
(Daniel Billy is an editor and Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are their own.)
Muse highlights include Elin McCoy on wine, Jeremy Gerard on music.