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Bocuse Restaurant opens in Hyde Park with sumptuous banquet
The Bocuse Restaurant opened in Hyde Park’s Culinary Institute of America on Friday night with a celebratory banquet honoring Paul Bocuse, the renowned French chef for whom the new $3 million restaurant was named.
The feast began with a whimsical dish of foie gras shaped like a peach, accompanied by a French Gewürztraminer, and concluded, nearly three hours later, with handmade boutique chocolates and a Château de Laubade Armagnac, 1926 — the birth year of the honoree.
Designed by the ubiquitous food world architect Adam Tihany, The Bocuse Restaurant replaces the Escoffier room, formerly the school’s sumptuous — if stuffy — showcase for classic French cuisine. In attendance were more than 125 food industry executives, media and a passel of celebrity chefs whose lives have been influenced directly or otherwise by Bocuse, Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller, Michel Richard, Jean-Georges Vongerichten and David Burke among them. The octogenarian chef appeared frail but animated; earlier in the day, he toured the school’s kitchens and shook hands with hundreds of students.
Unless you look out the window, The Bocuse Restaurant has little obvious connection to the Hudson Valley; indeed, it could easily be in Manhattan’s SoHo. The modernist dining room is swathed in beige and white fabrics and leather, with dark hardwood floors, artsy bentwood armchairs and, overhead, an array of Buck Rogers-like coiled steel chandeliers. The message is clear: Although classic French cooking has its place, global cuisine is the future. So it is fitting that the new restaurant is dedicated to a chef who launched the less-is-more movement with nouvelle cuisine in the 1970s at his three-star restaurant in Collonges-au-Mont-d'Or, Burgundy. The Culinary Institute of America restaurant will serve “haute brasserie food” with global accents. (Lunch and dinner are served Tuesdays through Saturdays; the restaurant is closed on Sundays, Mondays and school holidays.)
“Every single thing you see here is new,” observed Charley Palmer, a Culinary Institute of America grad, restaurateur and current chairman of the school’s board of directors. “They did a great job at making a statement about today’s cooking.”
Culinary Institute of America students under the supervision of faculty chefs prepared the dinner. As with any Paul Bocuse tribute — and there are many — the cynosure of the feast was Bocuse’s signature black truffle soup with a puff pastry crust. As party favors, guests were presented heavy ceramic representations of the famous dish mounted on thick blocks of wood. No instructions were offered as to what to do with them.