Daniel Boulud is a French chef and restauranteur with decades of experience in the industry and several restaurants around the world. Chef Boulud has the type of career anyone could respect; starting at the bottom from a young age, working to the very top of his field. Through his book, ‘Letters to a Young Chef’, Chef Boulud makes sense of his past and experience to guide budding chefs to take their skills to the next level.
Reading ‘Letters to a Young Chef’ feels as if your mentor is sitting down and lecturing you after a long shift, over a bottle of wine. It is filled with insight from a master, based on firsthand experience. The Chef acknowledges that the world has changed but uses that to emphasis why certain principles are timeless and necessary to succeed as a chef. I may not know Daniel Boulud but I feel as though I just had a long discussion with a mentor and he is rooting for me to follow in his footsteps.
Chef Boulud manages to articulate what many chefs feel without being condescending. Working in a kitchen is difficult. The hazing process is common. No one respects you until dues are paid. It is easy to feel talk down to as a newbie learning from a master. However, Mr. Boulud manages to impart essential information in a way that sparks passion. While I am sure working in one of his kitchens would come with its own challenges, this book reminds you of the hope you have when starting to work in a professional kitchen. The creative, fulfilling side to slaving away in the kitchen. These reminders are necessary when you are being screamed at constantly in the pursuit of excellence. Stay the course.
Although, he has decades of years in the restaurant business, Daniel Boulud is not an out of touch master of a bygone era. He manages to show his relevance by taking into account his experience and the world as it is now. His reference to topics like social media, globalization and modern business shows his knowledge of the restaurant industry now and gives helpful advice to navigate this insane world. His worldliness further strengthens his wisdom. This is not just a French chef who’s advice is only worthwhile in his kitchen. This is a entrepreneur who built his businesses off of raw talent.
Anyone who is considering becoming a chef should read this book. Being successful in this industry takes a certain work ethic and mindset. Mr. Boulud reinforces the good habits any restauranteur in training should be practicing. Personally, I think I will add ‘Letters to a Young Chef’ to my list of regular reads. Brushing up on important reminders of why I got into this business is sometimes as important as practicing them. Not all of us are lucky enough to work with great chefs like Daniel Boulud, however that doesn’t mean we can not benefit from his years of wisdom. As an aspiring chef make sure to gain knowledge from all avenues; in the kitchen, out of the kitchen and even on your bookshelf.