David Bouley was born and raised near Storrs, Connecticut. From early on he was strongly influenced by life on his grandparent’s farm, drawing upon their French heritage and instilling a love of the land, an appreciation for fresh products, care in their preparation, and the inspiration to cook and enjoy healthful meals.
David worked in restaurants from an early age, spending time working in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Cape Cod, and, eventually, France and Switzerland. While in Europe, after studies at the Sorbonne, David had the opportunity to work with some of Europe’s most acclaimed chefs, including Roger Vergé, Paul Bocuse, Joel Robuchon, Gaston Lenôtre, and Frédy Girardet. Having gained that experience, David returned to work in New York City in leading restaurants of the time, such as Le Cirque, Le Périgord, and La Côte Basque, as well as spending time as sous chef in a restaurant opened by Roger Vergé in San Francisco.
From there, David became chef of Montrachet restaurant when it opened in TriBeCa in 1985. The restaurant quickly drew attention and earned a three-star review in The New York Times.
In 1987 David opened his own restaurant, Bouley, in TriBeCa. Bouley quickly became known as the most notable dining experience in New York and set a new standard for fine dining in America. Among many accolades Bouley earned a four-star review in The New York Times and received James Beard Foundation awards for best restaurant and best chef. From 1991 through its close in 1996, Bouley received the number one ranking in food and popularity in the Zagat Survey of New York City Restaurants. To this day, no other restaurant has been able to achieve a food rating of 29 (out of a possible 30) in the Zagat
Survey, as Bouley did in its last three years.
Upon closing Bouley restaurant in 1996, David set to work on plans to advance a culinary vision that involved developing a set of new operations in the gastronomic realm, with the intent to bring high quality products to an expanded audience. The objective involved building upon the success of Bouley restaurant to develop a complex of related operations designed to embody, and make more widely accessible in new forms, the essence of the experience achieved in the original. A first step involved the opening of Bouley Bakery.
In 1997, Bouley Bakery opened as a wholesale and retail bakery as well as a café and restaurant. Bouley Bakery immediately became enormously popular, prompting an expansion in 1999. Shortly thereafter, following in the footsteps of Bouley restaurant, Bouley Bakery earned a four-star review in The New York Times. In September 1999, David opened Danube, a Viennese-inspired restaurant, located on Hudson Street, in the same block and around the corner from Bouley Bakery. The cooking features David Bouley’s interpretation of Eastern European cuisines. The Danube earned a three-star review in The New York Times and was named newcomer of the year in the Zagat Survey of New York City Restaurants. The Danube’s beautiful and romantic décor has also earned praise and was rated number one for décor by the Zagat Survey.
Recent events and the rebirth of Bouley restaurant: Following the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Bouley Bakery and Danube, given their proximity to the World Trade Center site, were closed. During this time, David established the Green Tarp restaurant at the Ground Zero site to feed relief workers around the clock for nearly four weeks. While Danube eventually reopened,relief workers around the clock for nearly four weeks. While Danube eventually reopened, Bouley Bakery remained closed and served as the base of operations to prepare over one million meals for Ground Zero relief workers in conjunction with the Red Cross. The original Bouley restaurant had been an early pioneer in the developing area of TriBeCa, and David Bouley remains firmly committed to redevelopment efforts in lower Manhattan.
In February 2002, following repairs and renovations, the Bouley Bakery facility was reopened as Bouley restaurant, reminiscent of the original Bouley though with a cuisine now reflecting influences from David’s travels, growth, and experiences since the original restaurant closed in 1996. The new incarnation of Bouley carries on the tradition established by the original, with the promise of continuing to take diners on a path to explore new and exciting culinary experiences.