This past July, I had the incredible opportunity of attending a private dinner at RdV Vineyards hosted by Chef Daniel Boulud. Seated at a table of about twelve people, my fellow dinner companions happened to be the farmers whom had supplied all the meat and produce for the meal. Afterwards, Chef Boulud and I had a little chat over his mouthwatering madeleines…
1. Keep things casual.
“I’m very informal when hosting friends for dinner,” he casually says.
I can’t say with a straight face that dining with Chef Daniel Boulud at stunning vineyards was casual per se, but Chef did make us feel absolutely at ease.
2. Make it feel interactive (…without actually giving your guests work).
“I don’t like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I prefer to bring the kitchen to the table.”
This was evident throughout our meal as Chef Boulud took great joy in bringing ingredients to the table to show us what the dish looked like in progress. Of course, he also left us in awe with his deft preparations and stunning presentations.
3. Don’t let perfection stand in the way of a good evening.
“The presentation is not always the way I want it but you have to move on,” he shrugs and chuckles.
4. Be strategic about the menu.
Start with small bites that make big impressions.
“The menu should be a crescendo. This menu was kind of long but we try to keep the pace.”
5. Celebrate the roots.
Having spent most of his life on a farm, Chef Boulud always pays homage to the grueling yet gratifying profession. “I like to connect farmers to the table.”
With a new house in New York that boast eight acres of land, Chef Boulud hopes to turn at least two or three of the acres into gardens. “It’s a lot of work…I’ll need someone full time to take care of it.” His next-door neighbor has sprawling farms all around him and often brings him eggs and such after using his property as a shortcut. Her name, by the by, is Martha Stewart.
6. Cook with the seasons, not against them.
When it comes to selecting what dishes to make, Chef Boulud lets the seasons command the courses.
“At home, we only cook seasonal and local. It’s how I always function, including in many of my restaurants. Of course, there’s the DNA of French approach. But the ingredient dictates the direction.”
7. Be sure to select a wine that does your food justice.
Remember, high prices don’t necessarily guarantee a good pairing.
Ready to throw a dinner party in the style of Daniel Boulud? As an extra nudge, here’s a recipe of his shared exclusively with Un-plated.
Salt & Herb Baked Vidalia Onions
- 2 cups coarse sea salt
- 1 ounce fresh rosemary
- 1 ounce fresh thyme
- 5 pounds whole sweet Vidalia onions (about 6 onions—preferably with the green tops)
- 3 heads garlic, whole
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
Place a medium or large cast iron pan into the oven and preheat it to 425°F. Once it is preheated
Remove the pan from the oven and place half of the salt into the bottom. Take half of the rosemary and thyme then evenly distribute them across the salt to create a nest for the onions.
Take the fresh Vidalia onions by the green leafy stem and situate them closely together in the center of the cast iron pan, with the green part facing up. Place the garlic on top of the onions, and the remaining herbs on top and all around. Drizzle the onions and garlic with olive oil and then cover everything with the remaining salt and the black pepper.
Place the pan in the oven on the bottom rack for 1 hour and 15 minutes. The onion skin should become crispy and golden brown. When ready to eat take the onions out of the oven and remove them from their skin. Cut them into quarters and serve.