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Letters to a Young Chef


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Daniel Boulud was born in France in 1955 and trained under renowned chefs Roger Verge, Georges Blanc, and Michel Guerard. He moved to the United States, where he served as Executive Chef at Le Cirque in New York. In 1993 he opened Daniel, Zagat's top-rated New York restaurant for two years running, followed by Cafe Boulud and DB Moderne. Among numerous other awards, he has been named "Chef of the Year" by Bon Appetit, and has received Gourmet's "Top Table" award. He lives in New York City.


Talent and passion alone do not ensure success as a chef and restaurateur; also required are the complementary abilities to identify critical people and resources, organize and manage them, and ultimately deliver the best dining experience possible to one's customers. This is the straightforward message delivered by Boulud, author (Caf? Boulud Cookbook) and well-known restaurateur (New York's Daniel and Caf? Boulud), in this short, informative book. His targeted reader is the young chef, eager to embark on a challenging career with diploma in hand. Boulud describes the key factors that distinguish good cooks from great chefs, including a commitment to procuring top ingredients, managing diverse personalities, and welcoming new cooking and eating experiences. Anecdotes from his own career are tantalizingly sprinkled throughout his narrative. While Boulud's advice is undeniably sound, the device of couching it in the form of letters to beginners is sometimes strained. Nevertheless, this makes a fine companion to Jacques Pepin's recent The Apprentice: A Cook's Memoir. Recommended for larger public libraries. (Recipes not seen.)-Andrea Dietze, Orange Cty. P.L., Santa Ana, CA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

You can say one thing for Boulud, owner of top-flight New York restaurants Daniel, Caf? Boulud and DB Bistro Moderne: he's not one for coddling. In this rather skimpy collection of advice to recent culinary school grads, he shoots straight from the hip. Working as a chef in someone else's restaurant wouldn't be his choice, he explains, or the choice of anyone with true passion, he implies. "Still, it is a life." Instead, these brief chapters on topics like finding a mentor and controlling one's ego and ambition ("I have a healthy dose of both," he confesses) are aimed at a very specific audience: those who want to open their own restaurants, and they'd better be young (over 30 is over-the-hill) and hungry-and not just for a perfect coq au vin. The book is long on generalities, but rather short on specifics. One exception is the chapter on wine and dessert, which explains that 10% to 15% of an average check is generated by the latter, and one-third by the former. Boulud can also be maddeningly contradictory, as when he lauds all things seasonal, then broadens the definition to include chanterelles from Oregon, because they reach New York in two days. A final chapter listing the 10 commandments of a chef (including keep knives sharp and learn the world of food) restates much of the previous information in pithier form. This book is the Monsieur Hyde to the Dr. Jekyll version of culinary training presented in Jacques Pepin's The Apprentice (Forecasts, March 3). Recipes not seen by PW. (Sept.) Forecast: Boulud addresses a limited audience of young people on the verge of graduating from culinary school. The few curious foodies who do pick this up are likely to be disappointed, so expect less than stellar sales. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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