French chefs at Vinegar Hill House greeted Boulud as he walked through the door late last night like he was Norm at Cheers. The chef is playing host to the gaggle of French chefs in town for tonight and tomorrow’s Le Fooding at P.S.1, and Veuve Clicquot threw the group a rowdy preview dinner. As entertainment, someone had hired, for unfathomable and indefensible reasons, a French torch singer with a neon accordion and a man making giant balloon hats. (David Chang did not take off his inflatable golden crown all night.)
Between pouring of various vintage Veuves, Boulud said the visiting French chefs — L’Ami Jean’s Stephane Jego and Yves Camdeborde of Le Comptoir du Relais among them — had learned a few things while they were in New York, touring DBGB, Daniel and Chang’s restaurants, among other eateries. They learned “conviviality and fraternity,” he said. They learned that our products and ingredients are better than they had expected: “They were impressed.” They learned that “whatever they’ve heard, the French in New York are alive and kicking,” added Boulud, who went sans balloon hat. And after a memorable time at Daniel, they told Boulud he makes a better pressed duck than they do.