Restaurateur David Bouley

Bouley is not closing, but rather it is reopening as a smaller location in Tribeca…we’ve got no problem with that. You see, the chef – a culinary icon – is  taking time out from the kitchen to study intensively about the relationship that food has with health. Bouley plans to take courses on the subject and even consult with experts across the globe. Once this is done Bouley will return to New York and reopen his restaurant, which will have a more health conscious menu.

We talked with Bouley in New York recently, and discovered just how the chef feels about detoxes, overrated ingredients and the importance of natural fibers. He also told us about why his fridge is his pantry, and gave us an easy weeknight recipe that is as delicious, as it is healthy. Read through below for a great interview with a great chef…

From start to finish, what would be your ideal food day? 

I’ll have my fresh bergamot lemon squeezed into 4oz of water before my eyes are barely open! Then I will have a poached organic farm egg and a quarter of biodynamic Santa Barbara avocado on toasted buckwheat bread. For lunch, fricassee of wild mushrooms – because of their cleansing properties – and fresh anchovies. Dinner is a sautéed mixture of five green vegetables with a homemade coconut-almond oil butter over brown rice noodles!

Your new series Chef & The Doctor, revolves around pairing food with health and wellness. Why is this an important topic for you? 

A large majority of the doctors who participate had their own set of health issues, which they fixed through food. They have taught me a lot about how to do it, and I’ve integrated that into my own menus.

What health trend do you find overrated? Which are you on board with? 

Detox! Detox is something that many departments of your body are doing every minute of every day. You need to understand what detoxing is, and do it every day of the year. Periodic detoxing is not consistent with your bodies needs (your skin detoxes every day against bacteria for example). I don’t believe in trends.

What’s the secret to practicing balance in terms of eating well while eating ‘smart’?

Certain food cultures have never departed from eating delicious food that is nutrient-dense. Americans are still learning about this and need to learn more.

What ingredient do you consider overrated? Which do you think makes everything better?

I’ve never studied an ingredient that was “overrated” so I don’t know. However, one ingredient that everyone should consider learning to enjoy is Curcumin; it is the bright color in Turmeric (which is in the Ginger family). It is extremely anti-inflammatory and has a long list of positive health benefits.

What’s always in your fridge? What’s always in your pantry?

My pantry is IN my fridge: I only use a living pantry. I even keep my olive oil in my fridge. Other things that I embrace are avocado oil, homemade sauerkraut/pickles, homemade hemp milk, organic red walnuts, and homemade organic coconut-almond butter to name a few.

What’s an easy weekday recipe in three simple steps? 

Saute spinach, kale, swiss chard, arugula and parsley in Thai coriander and tarragon until melted.

Blend until smooth with 4 oz of almond milk.

Poach an Omega-rich farm egg in water with 2 Tablespoons of apple cider vinegar until all the white is cooked with a soft yolk.

Place a heaping spoonful of the green vegetable puree in a bowl, and put your poached eggs on top.

Drizzle with avocado oil and some salmon roe or caviar.

What was a meal in your career that you sat at and couldn’t believe who was at the table with you? What did you eat? 

César [Baldaccini] the sculptor, [Joseph] Felon the artist, and Chef Roger Vergé on the terrace. We ate Provence summer vegetable preparations overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

How has the food industry changed since you started? Is it for better or for worse? 

It’s larger than ever.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? The worst? 

‘Keep on swimming’ was the best. ‘Don’t trust yourself when passion is concerned’ was the worst.

What would your last meal be? Who would it be with?

With my wife; I’m still working on the menu.

What are your favorite restaurants in New York and Paris, and what do you eat at each of them?

I don’t eat out much in New York, I’m always at the restaurant or at my country house where I like to cook. In Paris L’Astrance, L’Arpege, or simply eating from the farmer’s market in one of the beautiful parks.

In the same vein as ‘what is the new black’ in fashion, what’s ‘the new potato’ in food right now? 

Natural fiber in foods to retard the damage of too much sugar, so that we can still enjoy some of the “dark side.”

Also see our interviews with Indochine’s Jean-Marc Houmard, and Blue Hill’s Dan Barber

*David Bouley, photographed at Bouley in New York, NY by Danielle Kosann