Daniel Boulud on Michelin, Miami, and His Type of Restaurant
The venerable chef is in Miami for the South Beach Wine & Food Festival
In the culinary universe, chef Daniel Boulud is one of the brightest stars: With restaurants in New York City, Miami, Palm Beach, Boston, Dubai, the Bahamas, Washington D.C., Montreal, Toronto, and Singapore, the French-born chef is best known for his eponymous restaurant, Daniel, one of a handful New York City establishments to earn two Michelin stars.
The chef is in Miami to host a South Beach Wine & Food Festival dinner at his Downtown Miami restaurant, Boulud Sud. The dinner, co-hosted by Mourad Lahlou and Ludo Lefebvre, celebrated the cuisines of France, Morocco, and the Mediterranean.
“It’s one of the largest festivals in the U.S., if not the world,” Boulud says about the festival, adding that he enjoys introducing his fellow chefs to each other. “It’s my contribution to bring a group of friends who maybe don’t have the chance to cook in Miami,” he says. Boulud also prefers hosting a dinner at his own Boulud Sud. “I think it’s good to bring events to Downtown Miami and give people a chance to go somewhere beyond the beach.”
The chef also relishes the opportunity to cook for a group of people again after COVID, which rocked the restaurant industry. Boulud says that in this time of renewal, the most important thing is to make sure people come back to the culinary field. “The entire industry was shattered by this exodus of talent that decided to quit the business.” His hope for the future? “I think we want to make sure that staff comes back and that new talent grows in this industry because it is the most amazing industry in the world.”
“The entire industry was shattered by this exodus of talent that decided to quit the business.” His hope for the future? “I think we want to make sure that staff comes back and that new talent grows in this industry because it is the most amazing industry in the world.”
Boulud says the restaurant industry is much more than a business. “We have this opportunity to be creative, to engage with the community, and to communicate with many people,” he says. He points out that, during COVID when restaurants had to close their dining rooms, many restaurateurs started feeding people in their community and first responders — mostly out of their own pockets. “A lot of chefs are involved with supporting charities,” he says. “We have an ability to be able to shift with a situation. It’s not because we have money. It’s that we have a lot of energy, generosity, and compassion in our business.”
The chef is also excited about the Michelin Guide coming to Miami. "I think Miami has always been a destination for food and entertainment. Michelin coming to Miami is very good for the city. It shows that there’s a diversification of restaurants and hospitality in Miami and that’s what attracted Michelin, I’m sure.”
So what does an owner of a two-Michelin-starred restaurant say to Miami restaurateurs who want to reach for those proverbial stars? “I think if a restaurant is ambitious, this is an opportunity to shine, though not every restaurant should have to worry about having a star.”
Does Boulud think that the Michelin Guide will give his Miami restaurant, Boulud Sud, a Michelin star? “I’m not a judge, but I am ambitious enough,” he replies.
Boulud adds that Miami has many fine restaurants and chefs worthy of accolades, with two local favorites coming straight to mind: Michael Schwartz (Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink) and Michelle Bernstein (Cafe La Trova), adding, “I believe Michelle should be named the queen of Miami because she deserves the crown. Her restaurant, Michy’s (now closed) was superb way before the influx of national and international brands.”
Boulud says that there are two types of restaurants in Miami: One is a consistent and classic restaurant like Thomas Keller’s Surf Club Restaurant.
The other type of Miami restaurant? “There are the restaurants that turn into nightclubs with DJs and dancing on tables. They’re great for having some drinks, but I love to dine where I can enjoy the meal and my friends.”