Famed Chef David Bouley dies at age 70

Among the vanguard of chefs who redefined French fine dining, Bouley also believed food had an important role in health.
Bouley restaurant
The New York restaurant Bouley was widely acclaimed over its nine years, earning four stars from The New York Times. | Photo: Shutterstock.

David Bouley, a fine-dining chef who was passionate about the interplay of food and health, reportedly died on Monday of a heart attack. He was 70 years old.

Bouley was a Connecticut-born chef who trained in France and Switzerland and then returned to bring a New American style to French cuisine in the U.S.

He first became known for the restaurant Montrachet, credited with establishing New York’s TriBeCa as a dining destination. Later, his flagship concept Bouley brought in Japanese technique, and he was embraced by the Japanese government as a “Japanese Cuisine Goodwill Ambassador.”

He was known for stacking apples near the entrance of his restaurants so guests were greeted with the fresh scent of ripening fruit.

Though he was born in Connecticut, Bouley’s mother was French, and his experiences visiting his grandparents’ farm left a lasting impression. He started working in restaurants when he was young, eventually traveling to France, where he attended the Sorbonne. In Europe, he worked with chefs ranging from Roger Vergé, Paul Bocuse and Joel Robuchon. He returned to New York City and spent time at Le Cirque, Le Périgord and La Côte Basque.

But it was the opening of Montrachet in 1985 that brought the chef into the headlines. There, he earned a three-star review from The New York Times.

But he topped that with his namesake restaurant Bouley, opened in 1987, which earned four stars from the Times, as well as a James Beard Award and top Zagat rankings.

Over the years, there was Bouley Bakery and Market, which offered a broad to-go menu, as well as dine-in. At The Chef’s Pass, a private dining room at Bouley, the chef introduced guests to purveyors via Skype. The concept Brushstroke, a collaboration with the Tsuji Culinary Institute in Japan, had a renowned sushi bar.

Bouley was a believer in the notion of food as medicine. In 2013, he launched a lecture and dinner series called “The Chef & The Doctor,” which explored the world of alternative, preventative and functional medicine and the role of food and nutrition. He later received an honorary degree from the University of Connecticut’s College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources for his work connecting food with health.

According to his web page, Bouley was scheduled to publish a book, “Bouley at Home: Living Pantry,” that would serve as a guide to dining for better health at home.

A line of Bouley at Home frozen foods was also scheduled to debut next year.

He is survived by his wife Nicole Bartelme.

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