In Conversation With Chef Daniel Boulud

Shortly before lunch, Chef Boulud sat down with us to talk about winning awards, his favourite foods, and his guilty pleasures.

Chef Daniel Boulud/ @danielboulud

Chef Daniel Boulud is a Michelin star-winning chef amongst other awards and accolades. He has appeared on several TV shows, written a few books, and opened numerous restaurants worldwide, including db Bistro & Oyster Bar by Daniel Boulud located at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. 

We were fortunate to be invited to lunch at db Bistro & Oyster Bar by Daniel Boulud, and to top it all off, we learned that the man himself would be hosting us. Shortly before lunch, Chef Boulud sat down with us to talk about winning awards, his favourite foods, and his guilty pleasures.


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1. Congratulations on being named the best restaurateur in the world last year. How does that make you feel?

It makes me proud of my team and proud of the work we’ve done together. Of course I’m proud to be part of this business, the restaurant business. It was something I was not expecting. I have many accolades from around the world, but I take this all with pride and I make sure to work a little extra harder to maintain it.

2. Now that we’re coming out of the shadow of the pandemic, have you found that you’ve had to make a few adjustments to your menus or do you think people are still going for your best loved classics?

At the beginning (of the pandemic), the menu and the hours weren’t too extensive but we’re slowly returning to pre-pandemic activity and numbers (of guests).

3. Is there any difference between db in Singapore, db in New York, or anywhere else?

Very different. Every restaurant in every city is different. We don’t try to stereotype menus at all; we work menus with the chefs, with the localities.

4. Can you see differences in the consumption styles of different generations, especially Gen Z?

It’s great to have kids of all ages come in to experience our food, but with Gen Z, we cannot follow all their wishes and trends for risk of losing yourself. We don’t create menus for Gen Z but we’re every aware of them; we target our marketing at them. We try to cater and accommodate their lifestyles, but we don’t try to make everything “Instagrammable”.

5. You’ve expressed your love for seafood. Can you tell us your favourite food?


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Crab! It doesn’t matter which country, from Alaska to Malaysia, it’s interesting to see how different cultures get creative with it. Lobster is great, but the way crab tastes—briny, delicate and delicious—is great. Second one is avocado. I eat it often. When I get home late at night and I realised I’ve forgotten to eat, I split myself an avocado, I cut it with some balsamic, some anchovies; I eat it like a fruit. An avocado is very versatile and very light, and there’s nothing better than guacamole and chips, with a good margarita!

6. What do you like about Marina Bay Sands?

It’s Marina Bay Sands Singapore! Today, Singapore would not be able to imagine itself without Marina Bay Sands. What they’ve brought to Singapore, the country is very proud of, and I’m very proud to be a part of Singapore through Marina Bay Sands.

7. What is your favourite item on the menu here in db Marina Bay Sands?

For the long time it’s been the db burger. But the seafood platter is also exceptional, and the soup! We take pleasure in making healthy, good soup. I love soup, and there’s always a soup on my menu. Our burger is world-famous though.

8. Are we going to be tasting the burger today?

No, but you are going to taste the oysters Vanderbilt, which is a new dish we created in New York. It’s named after the man who built Grand Central Station, and the oyster bar there but he never had an oyster named after him. Rockefeller had his oyster, but not Vanderbilt so we created an oyster Vanderbilt.

9. Speaking of oysters, what goes into your selection of oysters?

Taste is important, and the flesh or the body. The depth (of water) makes for better body. The most important is the trust we have with the suppliers and farmers. For example, in California we work directly with the farmers, but in Maine we work with suppliers. Sometimes the suppliers send us samples if there is a new oyster in the market. I prefer the Atlantic oysters, not the ones from Louisiana or the Gulf of Mexico because they get very big. But I like the French oysters, and the Scottish ones. Vancouver gets a lot of good oysters too.

10. Can we expect more restaurants from you in this region? Maybe in Malaysia?

Hopefully, yes! We’re talking with a hotel group in Kuala Lumpur, but we’ve not finalised anything.

11. What are you proudest of?


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Next year we are celebrating 30 years at Daniel (Chef Boulud’s flagship restaurant in New York). If I had come from a family with money I’d probably have been celebrating 40 years but it feels good to be celebrating 30 (laughs). Another thing I’m proud of is the amount of chefs I’ve trained. And also people in the front and the back of the house. It’s a huge family.

12. Can you imagine doing anything else? If you weren’t a chef, what would you be doing?

I don’t know. It’s never occurred to me. There’s never been a dull moment; there has been challenging times and frustrating times but it’s all been worth it.

13. Do you have any guilty pleasures?

I’m bad—I’ll eat a bag of gummy bears by myself!


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