Fine Living | Diary of a Somebody

Daniel Boulud

As the chef and restaurateur hosts a feast in New York, an inspector calls

Daniel Boulud

November 20 2010
Daniel Boulud

Day: 1 | 2

It’s hard to believe that last night’s Fall Game Feast is behind us. We pour so much of ourselves into planning the annual event that there’s a little anti-climax afterwards. The dinner is in its sixth year now. It all started on a smaller scale with good friends who happened to be Daniel regulars who like to shoot and fish. They would ask me to prepare private game dinners for them. Occasionally I’d even join them on a shoot in upstate New York. But word gets out about these things, and Daniel customers started asking about the game dinners, so we opened them up to the public. This year was the first time we made the event into a benefit for the Bocuse d’Or USA Foundation.

Thomas Keller, Jerome Bocuse and I started the foundation to recruit, train and support the young American chefs who go to Lyon to compete in the Bocuse d’Or, the world’s most elite cooking competition for professional chefs. Paul Bocuse created it more than 20 years ago, but the Americans had never really made a very good showing. Monsieur Paul reached out to me back in 2008, asking me to help get the US more involved. He’s very aware of the calibre of young chefs we have here and felt that was not being represented on the international stage. Well, if you’re a chef and Monsieur Paul asks you to step up, you just say, “Oui, chef,” and you get organised.

But back to the Game Feast. We started with a reception where we served an incredible array of terrines and pâtés from a buffet decorated with mounted birds. The taxidermist who mounts them is now a game dinner regular himself. The spread included pheasant terrine with foie gras and figs, Scottish hare terrine, foie gras and black truffle, wild boar ham en croûte, woodpigeon and chestnut ballotine, wild duck stuffed with morels and dried apricots, warm juniper-scented grouse pâté, foie gras and wild dove terrine.

For the dinner, each of the five courses was prepared by a different one of my NYC chefs. Jean François Bruel from Daniel did the red-legged partridge consommé with savoy cabbage and foie gras. The warm wild duck salad with porcini, farro and spinach was the work of Café Boulud’s Gavin Kaysen. Daniel sous chef Greg Stawowy made Scottish wild hare raviolo with chestnuts and celery. The pièce de résistance was a roasted venison saddle stuffed with foie gras and fall root vegetables by Daniel chef de cuisine Eddy Leroux.

The evening ended with pastry chef Dominique Ansel’s honey crisp apple confit with cinnamon shortbread and sparkling apple cider sorbet. The wines were just as tempting and took us from Sonoma to Oregon, to Chateauneuf and Barolo. My co-host for the evening, D’Artagnan owner Ariane Daguin, supplies us with a lot of our game. She entertained us in between courses with an informal wild game quiz.

After dinner we lingered over a wonderful Bas Armagnac du Chateau Laubade. It was particularly welcome by the end of the evening, as we had an unexpected visit from a health department inspector in the middle of the gala dinner. This is actually pretty standard practice in New York, and especially at this time of year, believe it or not. We were well prepared, but it wasn’t what we had hoped for in the middle of an important event.

I’m off to San Sebastian tomorrow night to do a demo at the Gastronomika. More news to come.

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