Daniel Boulud

Daniel Boulud

Chef / Owner of The Dinex Group

A lot of the growth happens when you are a part of a team where everyone plays a role and exists in the circle of creativity; I learn from my chefs and they learn from me.

The best advice for someone just starting out is to do a few stations for a year or two to build your foundation. It doesn't matter if it is in a bistro or a fine dining restaurant; within a company, like ours, you can always move around.
Every job I had, I was at for a minimum of two years, sometimes I was there up to six years. That is the length of time you need to have for your investment to have an impact on you. To get the reference from a business, you have to grow in it.
When I was fourteen years old, I knew I wanted to be a chef and I never looked back. I had the fear that maybe I could not get the job I wanted that kept me motivated.
In this industry trust, loyalty and relationships are the keys to success.
You must have trust in yourself as well as those who surround you, including your team, your customers, your suppliers and partners as well as your colleagues.
The relationships you create build a special loyalty that stays with you. They provide a feeling of protection in my life. I truly appreciate the continued trust and loyalty of many of my past employees and want to pass that feeling down to the next generation – the history of the relationship that is linked to trust and loyalty.
Relationships are not just local, they are national and even international. When colleagues refer people to me from everywhere, it shows the beauty of our business; a business built on relationships that need to be cultivated and strengthened.
It's not an easy business. The communal work we do together gives us a lot of strength as a team.
People have other priorities. To me, my energy, my focus and my goals are tied to this business. A big challenge is of course the hours it demands. I always want to try to find a work-life balance even though I have to work hard to achieve professional success and financial stability.
To avoid burnout, I spend time with my family. We have young children and I have a place in the country. I also enjoy good wine and tasting things, but try to be very careful about what I put into my body.
I enjoy the podcast, “Time Sensitive,” they always have great topics. I also like “The Legacy Series.” I find it very inspiring to listen to other people's stories, it has a lot of connection with what I do.
Since COVID-19, things have changed; business came back, but normality was slower and the demand of the business is a little more erratic. We work to maintain what we have established. It’s not about adding new things, but nurturing and taking care of what we have to continue to be successful.
In order to do my job, I need the support of my family and team.
You have to want to succeed for it to happen.
I am proud to be American even if I am French and in my day-to-day life I continue to be involved in my community, my business, my profession, my charities, Food First and City Meals on Wheels. I find excitement in not only being successful with what my team and I have done, but also to have new projects.
For people who want to change careers, sometimes they want to remain in the industry, but they get lured into doing other things that take them away from the creative aspects they love. For example, sommeliers who go off to sell wine have to focus on the wine from one company versus a sommelier who has the freedom to choose from many brands. This type of change can take away from the beauty of the profession and is something to be aware of if you are looking to make a shift.
Even for perfectionists, it’s not about being successful 95% of the time, it’s the 5% failure that helps you grow as you learn to avoid recurring mistakes.
Being a chef means you have to be: (1) a very good cook; (2) a good scholar with the cuisine you practice; (3) a scientist who understands some chemistry; (4) a strategist who is constantly planning; (5) an athlete who exercises at least 12 hours a week; (6) a psychologist to handle people's emotions and their energies; (7) an accountant who can do general mathematics; (8) a perfectionist who learns from their mistakes.
To succeed, you must have the desire to flourish within your DNA.
Not everyone has a clear direction of what path they want to take. Choose a good mentor, they can have a different path.
Be respectful of the brand you work for, the people who work there, the equipment, the team, the customer – if you learn to have that respect, you can really grow.
People are part of the bone structure of the business. We learn from our employees who come from different backgrounds. We also take the time to nurture them to make sure everyone has an opportunity to grow with us no matter where they started.
Never forget tradition, always evolve with your time and new customers. This is the most beautiful business if you love it.
Some of my mentors, including Georges Blanc and Michel Guérard, left behind legacies that still inspire young people today, nearly 90 years after their prime. They are people made of tradition, innovation, and ambition.
I have never felt lonely in my career, never unmotivated. I chose hospitality because it felt like it fulfilled what I loved to do, which is to take care of people.
Not everyone can stand the heat.
My book, “Letters to a Young Chef” gives a sense of why I love this profession and why it is beautiful.

Disclaimer: Individuals featured in the Inspirational Career Timelines section have been nominated by peers, colleagues and/or other members of the hospitality industry. It is to the best of our knowledge that each individual has demonstrated leadership and acted as a positive role model for others.

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