On the Upper East Side, even restaurants are not impervious to the call of a little upkeep. On Friday, Sept. 12, chef Daniel Boulud unveiled a makeover of his 15-year old flagship eatery, Daniel, which had been closed for a five-week renovation.
“If we go broke tomorrow, at least we’ll have gone out in style!” said the jovial chef, speaking to a crowd of friends, food writers and industry colleagues including Gael Greene and Jacques Pepin.
A formerly gilded ceiling had been tamed by a coat of white paint. Campy tents had been replaced by modernist lighting fixtures and massive collage portraits by the Spanish artist Manolo Valdes.
“The dining scene is changing,” shrugged Mr. Boulud before a six-course lunch with wine pairings. (Needless to say, we stumbled back to the office slightly dazed.) “I think my cooking is changing over time, and I always keep a lot of excitement about cooking, and evolving without changing my style. And I think everything has to go with it.” Mr. Boulud recently joined the casual revolution with Bar Boulud in Lincoln Center.
He opened Maison Boulud in Beijing in June and has since met both the athlete of the hour and a bevy of NBC staffers: “I’m in the picture with Michael Phelps!… I was with him on the Today show. They had the Today show live from Beijing every day, and Al Roker came to my restaurant to celebrate his first day, and all of NBC was there all the time.”
Luncheon guests reacted with enthusiasm to the redesign. “I love it!” said Mireille Guiliano, author of French Women Don’t Get Fat and a longtime friend of le chef. “I wasn’t crazy about the former space.
“I met [Daniel] when he was a young chef in New York City,” she continued. “He’s from Lyon, people from Lyon are so passionate…He’s a happy chef. There are chefs who are grumpy. Like what they said about Pavarotti, why did he sing so well? Because he was happy.”