David Bouley Plans to Retool His Restaurants, and Himself

At 63, the influential TriBeCa chef will shut Bouley and reopen it in a smaller space with a mission of health.

Comments: 41

  1. Well I hope he takes some of this new learning back to his home town of Storrs, 'cause it's an awful place to try to get a decent meal.

  2. We are saddened to hear that Bouley is closing. Along with Jean Georges it has been our favorite restaurant in New York. Somehow a new 26 seat restaurant (where reservations will likely be impossible) featuring dietary restrictions & perhaps decor to match can't take the place of decadent food and 3+ hour lunches in a lovely old world setting. Thank you Mr. Bouley for all the wonderful meals we've had in your restaurant we just wish there could be more.

  3. Yeah. he's not closing. He's relocating.

  4. I’m on board. I’m curious though, about the correlation between science and culture. A chef who will, at an advanced stage in his career, “re-tool”, to study nutrition and health, is very interesting. But is that a substitute for culture, or a merely coloring of it?

    The analogy is between formal education, represented by research, studies, and opinion, as compared to evolution, represented by culture. Does culture eventually examine these possibilities, in parallel with natural selection? And then, which will work better?

    One reference is the intuitive cultural choices which resolve health issues without conscious thought. For example, the conspiracy of amino acids in the traditional rice and beans combinations of Central American communities, to create useful proteins.

  5. Excuse me, calling to make a reservation at Bouley.

  6. Sounds like a reconstituted version of "eat your peas, they are good for you" Yeah, but is it fun?

  7. I will really miss Brushstroke. It's transporting in so many ways.

  8. Rats. I still miss Danube.

  9. Always an inspiration!

  10. I am a wildly uninspired cook when it comes to using vegetables. I have been working on it, but frankly if a real genius with food finds ways to make veggies and fiber taste inspiring, I am all for it. Trends from top chefs trickle down to eventually find their way into our home kitchens.

    Go ahead and inspire me, Mr. Bouley.

  11. Two words in your ear: Yotam Ottolenghi. His "Plenty" veggie cookbook is plenty inspiring, and his "Jerusalem," though not purely veggie, is even more inspiring, being a rare collaboration between an Israeli and a Palestinian.

  12. I trust that whatever David Bouley does will be brilliant, and poetic; and applaud his course of study in discovering the connections between nutrition and health. His sabbatical travels I hope will include a trip to visit Dr. Michael Colgan, Salt Spring Island, BC, a scientific expert with 40+ years of research in the fields of nutrition, exercise and anti-aging.

  13. As soon as I read this article, I booked a reservation for July. I've been to this restaurant many times, and it saddens me that this restaurant - the most romantic in NY - will no longer exist.

  14. I should think he could learn more visiting farms and farmers than going to Harvard Business School.

  15. What a refreshing idea. A restauranteur and chef who is interested in healthy eating. Most of his contemporaries are only concerned with selling and table rotation rates at their restaurants.

    Hopefully, Mr. Bouley will incorporate many plant based options in his new restaurant. Plants are healers while meat and dairy are killers.

  16. My, a talented chef, but a scientifically ignorant fellow, who is to be "hob nobbing" with nutritionists, as well as holistic doctors in France.

    That tells you a great deal about the dangerously pseudoscientific (and often ludicrous) junk he's going to be fed intellectually, as well as the stuff he's going to serve commercially.

    Better he should consult with scientifically knowledgeable doctors and dietitians in NYC first, before subjecting himself to the buncombe of these other types. I

  17. You have obviously not kept up on new medical research. Gut health and your microbiome is no longer just considered pseudoscience but has evolved to become an important aspect of medical science and research. It has the potential of offering clues to the many diseases and ailments affecting the human body.

  18. If he wants to learn about nutrition, food, and health, he could hardly do better than visiting The Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine at Tulane University. There medical students, practicing physicians, allied health professionals, and local community members are taught cooking skills along with evidence-based nutrition science. No fad diets, no pseudoscience, just solid peer-reviewed, published research and real-world cooking skills so that physicians can have useful conversations with their patients about food.

  19. Dan Barber's booked changed me. I feel the same of Michael Pollan's work. I love hearing that Chef Bouley is moving in this direction too. It's the future people, get used to it!

  20. The future looks like a pig with a new BBQ joint opening every week around Atlanta.

  21. The Tiger Woods of top chefs!

    Continual reinvention, sometimes for the better, sometimes not. But for geniuses like Tiger and he, the quest seems as interesting as the result.

    I remember having my first meal at the original Bouley and feeling the incredibly marvelous experience was like at a great restaurant in France. While there may have been, it felt like there was nothing comparable in atmosphere and food in NYC. Then it closed!

    Years spent in plans for the Russian Tea Room and elsewhere were sad in how they removed Mr. Bouley from those who marveled at his meals. Now Mr. Bouley is incorporating the latest food thinking (some of which is recognition of ancient thinking) in his quiver. I sometimes wish he would just cook and teach legions of others to cook like him. And sometimes I marvel at his endless search, willingness to reinvent himself and his empire, and take risks that chefs who have gone on to open many more global outposts than he, are far too afraid to tackle. One wishes him all the very best, hopes his energy never flags, and he always keeps on creating and stretching himself like the artist he is, and providing us food we can all revel in.

  22. I raise my glass of kombucha and say "Welcome to the world of Nutitional Cuisine Chef Bouley."
    As a chef instructor at the Culinary Arts and Nutrition program at Thompson School of Applied Science at the University of New Hampshire I am pleased to see such a change in a classically trained chef.
    The food we put in our bodies either gives us vigor or slump, it can be medicine or poison, feeding our healthy gut bacteria/flora or allowing overgrowth of less-desirable flora, which then results in low energy and cravings for more unhealthy food.

  23. I celebrated my wedding (and anniversaries) here and will miss it very much.

  24. It's sounds like a common theme - good restaurants have difficulty managing costs. Rents, staffing, etc. in the city are making it challenging, even for the best chefs. I've eaten at a few of David's restaurants and have always been satisfied with the meal. We recently read where Bill Telepan will be closing his establishment uptown. It's not getting easier; it's getting more competitive...which I suppose is great for diners, but creates large headaches for owners! We'll await the reopening of Bouley.....whenever it occurs.

  25. Bouley Bakery- did this guy not just say that sugar makes you fat???
    Cardiac patients are told not to eat baked goods-
    The connection between diet and health is an old one-the problems arise because we eat processed foods filled with preservatives, additives, chemicals, sugars etc that are not even food-
    if you eat real food-now called Farm to Table, but where I grew up in the 1960's that meant- go out on the farm field behind the house and pick some potatoes and cauliflower and go dig some clams out of the bay - you will be healthy.
    The more things change the more they stay the same. We need to get away from this culture of self important chefs and the whole foodie culture- when people are still starving all over the world.

  26. I am 71 yrs old & never been on meds not even an aspirin in my house. I was brought up on non processed food and continue to eat that way. I stopped eating "red meat" about 40yrs ago, was a vegetarian for many yrs., Occasionally, I eat good quality chicken and non farmed fish. When my left knee was intermittently inflamed for several yrs., I discovered that it was the dairy that was the cause (Thank you CHINA STUDY). Eating more legumes protein & low in calories. In case you are thinking that my diet is boring and perhaps tasteless, here are just a few of my favorite ingredients: lots of garlic, olive oil, fresh herbs (favs..cilantro, parsley, rosemary, sage) fresh lemon/limes (zest and juice),red pepper flakes, pinoli nuts. Buy your dried herbs from the health food store (much less expensive) and write the date on the glass bottle. Buy fresh after yr even if you have a lot left. I like Indian, Thai and Japanese food as well so have their staples on my kitchen as well. Buy Organic Shoyu instead of soy sauce. Buy organic, do not use a microwave or teflon pans. Avoid plastics, store all food & leftovers in glass containers as much as possible "Just eat " even at work ...no iPhone.. or computer, be grateful for what you are eating. Bring your lunch to work. Eat out less and use the money you saved from a few meals to buy the best ingredients and all those glass containers. Try this: Shred fresh zucchini. add lemon zest and juice & toasted pine nuts.Takes 5 min!

  27. During a visit to NYC about 8 or so years ago, I had the pleasure of eating at Bouley Bakery, a satisfying experience, and was impressed by the owner's creations. I am an engineer by education and as such, a scientist of sorts. I am not impressed with chefs attempting to "genetically modify" cuisine. Creating foams, dehydrating then rehydrating food, preparing and then injecting smoke in food, blah, blah. Can't we just use common sense in selecting ingredients, preparing them in simple ways and reasonably plating them? If you're going to spend money re-educating yourself at Harvard, why not just pack a suitcase and spend two months in southern Europe, travelling from Spain to Greece, and seeing how honest, healthy food is prepared? I figure the point of cooking is to please oneself and others, not to create over-complicated foodie babble.

  28. Bravo chef! Never have truer words been spoken: “You’re never going to get fat on avocado oil. Fat doesn’t make you fat. Sugar makes you fat.”

    You might have added,Sugar will kill you too.

    These words should be on every billboard in the country. In every classroom. In every 'health' joint selling huge 'fat-free' muffins.

    I've been following Bouley for over twenty five years. As long as he keeps going, keeps kicking the soccer ball, I'll keep going too.

  29. Whenever I leave Tennessee for New York I go to Bouley for the tasting menu at lunch. I have adored the food and the entire experience. I hate that the restaurant is closing. And my fear is that this new special restaurant with its small seating capacity will be priced out of my league.

  30. First off, let's all of us address the fact that we waste so much food in this country. Some say as much as 40%! Can't anyone tell me that just this fact alone has a lot to do with our completely unbalanced approach to food in America. Yea, we invented McDonald's.

    Second off, bone broth is the constitutional foundation to any approach to good food and good nutrition. It is the basis for the world famous Japanese ramen. Only the best ramen is based on a broth of bones and vegetables that will simmer for at least 24 hours to extract the elegant flavor and nutrition from the bones.

    Bouley can try his best to deal with the first issue, and also inform other folks. The second? I am positive that bone broth will figure greatly in his discovery of truly healthy eating.

  31. Good for you David Bouley! I can't wait to see what your sabbatical brings. I've never enjoyed myself more dining out than I did one lunch at Bouley years ago. I still remember the food, the wine, the staff, the ambiance and the feeling of welcome to enjoy the experience.
    I wish you well. You set a good example for the rest of us.

  32. I've been on an Auto-Immune Paleo/Protocol diet for 7 months and have never felt better. I am healing my inflamed body with food! But to do so means that I am forced to give up fine dining and this is truly heartbreaking. I hope you show them, David Bouley! Show the world that creativity, food and healing can be a beautiful thing. I'm so excited!

  33. It isn't specific diet that seems to be the primary key to longevity and health. The longest lived and healthiest groups on our planet have diets that divert from each other a great deal. The common thread seems to be lots of physical activity at moderate pace with relatively little time devoted to sitting in front of a computer or television.

    Of course, genetics is the most influential factor, but there's not much we can do about that yet. Diet finishes third, but the ideal one for any individual may have a great deal to do with genetics- what your specific ancestors ate and you are adapted to. Stephen Le does a good job of exploring this in the book "100 Million Years of Food".

    Foods that serve the needs of one person may not do so for another. However, nobody benefits from large quantities of refined sugar.

  34. Mr. Bouley's motivation seems to originate with the realization that America is "in trouble". He has decided to express his concern and offer a partial solution through his vocation, food preparation.

    The lesson for each of us is that each of us can make an individual contribution and become part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Better to be a positive force than a negative force!

  35. Oh please haven't we all been eating healthy since the Hippie days. That blended into even more sourdough bread once a week, kimchi, Japan mushrooms (though some can have reactions to these), North American Indian wild rice, etc.
    I guess the rich people diet is moving from common gout to more basics like gut conditions and that's a good thing. Eat your carrots, veggies, lettuce.
    fwiw for me at age 72 and rail thin i still respect that sugar can be energy especially in form of honey varieties. Not the processed kind of sugar used in the various 'fun' foods & beverages.
    Not dumping on this guy's effort but geez is this really important.

  36. RE: "...but geez is this really important."

    It is important. Alas, the people most in need of a healthier diet are the ones who are probably not reading this article, nor will they be dining at Mr. Bouley's new restaurant. I can imagine it will be hard to afford let alone attain a seat at such a small restaurant.

  37. Dear Mr Bouley at your age it is time to seek your maker.
    I opened my last Restaurant at 58, sorry i did. Now at 74 i am seeking my source and these have been the best years of my life.

    When you look back, not much in life matters. I should have chucked my business interests 20 years sooner.

    Good luck

  38. YEs, this is really important. USA food industry is about making profit not making people healthy. As the old saying goes, " you are what ou eat'

    Just eat whole food..and drink some wine.

    Everything in moderation and 'sans' GMO, Please...

  39. We celebrated my dads 80th birthday yesterday with a party at Bouley. It's always been my moms hands down favorite restaurant. Even if it's not closing, Bouley as it exists now will be gone. It is really the passing of an era. I'm so sad to hear this news, but so glad we got a last hurrah in the restaurant and enjoyed an excellent meal and celebration.

  40. Bouley has the best lunch in NYC and the US. Period. The most unique, delicious, down to the small details, rich, personal lunch ever. And for such a great price.
    Better than any other 3 stars Michelin restaurant in town.

    Please, please keep this amazing lunch, letting people taste the essence of life, and for such an affordable price. Don't become "only rich people" type of place, make it unique, but for everyone.

  41. I have been eating in Bouley whenever I am in NYC since early 1990s. I had heard about it and made a res, but after walking all over the city my friend and I thought about skipping and going to a simple cafe across the street. We chanced it and I will never look back. We were laughing with exhaustion and course upon course of the most delicious food (you often get more than menu lists, and the bread -oohhh). The fixed price lunch is a bargain. My 16 yo son loves it too, and misses spring break visiting grandma and eating there (although a college tour in summer got brought us in). Go - just go before he takes some time off. I have only been disappointed once- usually I am overwhelmed with wonder.